- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 17, 2020

A federal court judge asked the Trump administration Friday to figure out if the president really wants to declassify material about the investigation into Russian involvement in his election.

The U.S. Department of Justice was given until noon on Tuesday, Oct. 20, to have either President Trump or someone who has spoken to him submit a declaration explaining his true intentions.

Mr. Trump said last week on Twitter he “fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents” about what he called the “Russia Hoax,” resulting in the judge to seek clarification.

News organizations previously sued the Trump administration in federal court in Washington, D.C., with the goal of gaining access to material involving the government’s probe of the 2016 election.

The president’s announcement on Twitter accordingly led plaintiffs to push for the Justice Department to make available unredacted copies of related documents sought in their suits.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton held a hearing over the request Friday before ordering declarations from “the President or an individual who has conferred directly with the President.”

The judge, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, asked the government to determine if Mr. Trump “intended to order the declassification and release without redaction” of the documents.

Among the material sought by news outlets suing the Trump administration are documents involving the Russian election interference investigation led by former special counsel Robert Mueller.

The judge has asked the government if Mr. Trump’s post on Twitter means it should make available an unredacted version of the report summarizing the results of the special counsel’s investigation.

Judge Walton also wants to know if the tweet means the Justice Department should release so-called “302 reports,” which are summaries of interviews the FBI conducted as part of the Russia probe.

Another hearing in the matter has been set for Wednesday morning.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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