Accuracy in Media

NBC News repeated Democrats’ talking points when discussing President Trump’s decision to declassify documents related to the Russia poll.

The first point was that they were shocked by the president’s order, which makes little sense since he has been vowing to declassify the documents for months.

In “Are intel officials trying to slow Trump order to declassify Russia probe documents? Officials hope the declassification review will happen, but express private outrage Trump and allies want to spill secrets for apparent political purposes” by Ken Dilanian and Mike Memoli, start with this point and drive it home repeatedly.

U.S. intelligence officials were “blindsided by President Donald Trump’s order that they make public highly sensitive files in the Russia investigation” and are “hoping the White House will allow them to conduct a formal declassification review and damage assessment before they are forced to release the documents, current and former officials tell NBC News,” the story states in the first paragraph.

It does not explain why they would be “forced” to release the documents. They were ordered to by the president, who does not need to offer any reason why.

The next paragraph reads: “Senior executives at the FBI, Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence were scrambling Tuesday to respond after being taken by surprise by a White House press release Monday directing them to release classified material they had previously determined should not be made public.”

This introduced the second talking point repeated – that “officials” had determined the materials should not be made public.

The following paragraph says, “At issue are documents the FBI used to convince a federal judge in 2016 to allow electronic surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy adviser with ties to Russia. Parts of that surveillance application were released in July, but much was held back for national security reasons. Trump ordered some of that still-secret material released, as well as classified reports of all FBI interviews in connection with the application.”

And now, according to NBC News, the key is for President Trump to remain level-headed and let the Justice Department and FBI complete a “declassification review of the material.”

It admitted “that struck some intelligence officials as a stalling tactic, given that the president is the ultimate declassification authority, and he has already directed that the documents be declassified. ‘What’s to review?’ one intelligence official warned to NBC News.”

Even with all that, “officials remained hopeful Tuesday that the White House would allow the declassification review to go forward, even as they expressed private outrage that Trump and his allies in Congress were seeking to disclose secret information for what appeared to be purely political purposes.”

It also pointed out that the “directive matched, page for page, the documents [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin] Nunes and other Republicans said they had been seeking.”

Nunes’ committee is the lead investigative committee in Congress on these matters. It asking that specific documents be made public should indicate those documents are central to determining whether the president colluded with Russia or whether the Obama administration sought to undermine Trump by concocting investigations.

NBC then hit one final talking point – that it wasn’t Nunes who sought the information at all.

“’This is not committees, this is Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan and a couple other members of Congress – who by the way haven’t reviewed the information the way members of the Intelligence Committee have – but are just going to do everything in assisting the president’s delegitimization of the Mueller investigation,’” it quoted Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the Intel Committee, as saying on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’

The story then quotes an NBC News analyst who worked in the Obama administration and was dismissed early in the Trump administration and former Obama CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance had been revoked by President Trump saying how inappropriate it was for Trump to release the documents.

“He certainly has the authority to do it,” Brennan said. “But I do think it’s highly inappropriate, and I think everybody who knows these issues feels similarly.”




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