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British Spy Agency Reportedly Opposes Russia Document Declassification

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

Top British spy officials are resisting a push by Republicans to declassify FBI documents related to the Russia investigation, according to a Telegraph report.

Officials with MI6, Britain’s equivalent to the CIA, have warned the Trump White House that releasing the documents could hinder intelligence gathering operations, The Telegraph reported.

Trump said he is “very seriously” declassifying a slew of FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) documents that would shed light on the origins of the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

The MI6 opposition also raises the possibility that British officials are concerned the sought-after documents contain information that could be embarrassing to the British government. (RELATED: Republicans Want Trump To Declassify A New Batch Of Russia Documents)

The Russia investigation has several links to the U.K.

Former MI6 officer Christopher Steele is one of the main sources of allegations of collusion between the campaign and Kremlin. And Stefan Halper, a longtime FBI and CIA informant, met with former Trump campaign aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos during the campaign.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 08: Robert S. Mueller III, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), speaks at the International Conference on Cyber Security (ICCS) on August 8, 2013 in New York City. The ICCS, which is co-hosted by Fordham University and the FBI, is held every 18 months; more than 25 countries are represented at this year's conference. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Robert S. Mueller III, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), speaks at the International Conference on Cyber Security (ICCS) on August 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A meeting that served as the catalyst for the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign also occurred on British soil. The FBI opened the probe on July 31, 2016, after the Australian government reported details of a meeting between Papadopoulos and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer.

Downer claimed Papadopoulos said in their May 10, 2016, conversation that Russia had derogatory information on Hillary Clinton.

Among the documents sought for declassification are 21 pages from the FBI’s application to conduct surveillance against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The FBI relied heavily on allegations made by Steele in a 35-page dossier he compiled while on the payroll of the DNC and Clinton campaign.

Trump ordered the intelligence community to begin declassifying the documents Sept. 17, but retracted the request four days later. At the time, Trump said two foreign allies, which he did not identify, had asked him to refrain from releasing the documents.

In addition to the Page FISA documents, Trump ordered the release of FBI notes of interviews used in the FISA applications as well as notes of interviews with Bruce Ohr, the DOJ official who served as a back channel to Steele.

Republican allies of Trump have also pressed him to release FBI and DOJ emails they say show evidence was withheld from the FISA court in its applications to spy on Page.

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