Former Bush counsel urges Trump to move ahead on declassifying Russia docs

Former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray, who served under George H.W. Bush, is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE to move ahead with declassifying highly sensitive documents connected to the FBI's Russia investigation.

Gray argued during an interview on Hill.TV that Trump should direct Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinKlobuchar: 'Don't think' there are reasons to investigate Mueller probe's origins Democrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Barr dismisses contempt vote as part of 'political circus' MORE to release the text messages and documents, including those relating to former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“The first thing I would do is tell Rosenstein to release the information that the president has asked for and that Rosenstein has apparently helped talked him out of releasing" involving the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Gray told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”

“What’s missing here is what’s required by the department’s ranks that goes back decades – you have to have for any criminal investigation, you have to have a predicate crime that you’re investigating,” Gray added.

Trump early last week ordered highly sensitive documents related to the federal Russia investigation to be declassified, including classified parts of a surveillance application allowing the FBI to monitor Page and "all text messages relating to the Russia investigation" from former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyClash with Trump marks latest break with GOP leaders for Justin Amash Giuliani says Trump is 'doing the right thing' by resisting congressional subpoenas Giuliani strikes back at Comey: 'No one really respects him' MORE and several other top federal officials.

On Friday, the president delayed the release of the documents after "key allies" raised concerns.

Gray pushed back on concerns expressed by some Trump allies about the sensitive nature of information contained in the documents.

Some House conservatives argue the FISA warrant against Page was wrongly obtained because it used information from the controversial dossier on Trump's alleged ties to Russia compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. The dossier, which was compiled during the 2016 election, was funded in part by Democrats.

Gray argued on Hill.TV that Steele has already been identified as a major player in the probe due to his work on the dossier.

“He’s already been added, he’s already been discussed he’s already been identified as a source – I don’t know what the British are trying to do, maybe protect him more, but that’s not anything we have to oblige them on,” he said.

Trump is expected to meet with Rosenstein at the White House on Thursday after reports early this week indicated that the No. 2 Justice Department official expected Trump to fire him.

Rosenstein has pushed back on a New York Times report that he talked last year about secretly taping the president in the Oval Office and had considered pushing to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Rosenstein has called the story "inaccurate and factually incorrect."

— Tess Bonn