Trump threatens to declassify Russia docs to counterpunch Dems

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE on Wednesday threatened to declassify documents related to the Russia investigation that he claimed would be damaging to Democrats if they decide to investigate him when they take control of the House next year.

Trump's comments, made in an interview with The New York Post, come two months after he walked back his original plans to declassify and publicly release the documents as a result of concerns from U.S. allies and his own Justice Department.

ADVERTISEMENT

“If they want to play tough, I will do it,” Trump told the Post. “They will see how devastating those pages are.”

He suggested that the documents would serve as a counterpunch to Democrats if they choose to investigate him. 

“If they want to go and harass the president and the administration, I think that would [be] the best thing that could happen to me because I’m a counterpuncher and I will hit them so hard, they’ve never been hit like that,” he said. “You know what? I think that will help my campaign. That will be the beginning of my campaign as president.”

The White House announced in September that Trump had ordered the declassification of the documents, which include surveillance warrant applications on former campaign adviser Carter Page and text messages related to the Russia investigation from former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFive memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House Under Trump, our democracy is for sale MORE and other officials.

However, Trump announced days later on Twitter that he would delay the release, citing a meeting during which Justice Department officials said doing so could have a “perceived negative impact” on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE’s Russia investigation.

Trump also said at the time that “key allies” had warned him against releasing the documents, which contain highly classified material and could reveal sources and methods. 

On Wednesday, Trump said it would be “more powerful” to save the document releases for when the new Congress takes control.

“It’s much more powerful if I do it then,” Trump told the Post, noting that otherwise it would have been “yesterday’s news.”

Key GOP allies of Trump had issued a plea for him to declassify the Page documents as well as those related to Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official under scrutiny from Republicans for his connection to the controversial dossier on Trump's alleged ties to Russia that was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

Some Republicans have taken aim at the Justice Department and FBI for what they say were biased decisions in the investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally It's about the delegates, stupid MORE's private email server and ties between the Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Critics, meanwhile, view GOP efforts to probe the Justice Department as part of a broader push to discredit the Mueller investigation.

Next year, Democrats will take over control of all House committees, including those now investigating the Justice Department's actions in 2016 and the Steele dossier.

Some Democrats have signaled they plan to investigate Trump's business dealings, links to Russia and other matters. 

Trump has consistently criticized the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt,” alleging that it is run by a “gang” of Democrats investigating baseless claims of collusion between his campaign and Russia.