Trump's directive matched, page for page, the documents Nunes and other Republicans said they had been seeking.
"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," Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Several senior congressional Republicans — including House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy — declined to comment on the president's move when asked by NBC News.
Although Nunes has not personally read the surveillance application, according to multiple U.S. officials, he and Trump believe it will show that the FBI relied too heavily on information gathered by a former British intelligence officer who was being paid by Democrats.
But one person who has read the documents — Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee — suggested they would be more damaging to Trump that he realizes, given that they support an extraordinary move to conduct surveillance on a member of his campaign.
"Be careful what you wish for," Warner said.
Former intelligence officials were dismayed by the president's move.
"Declassification decisions should be considered outside the zone of politics, so any suggestion that they are tainted by political considerations is a pretty disturbing precedent," said Nick Rasmussen, an NBC News analyst who was a senior counterterrorism official in both the Trump and Obama administrations.
Speaking on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," John Brennan, who was CIA director under Obama but also served as an intelligence official during Republican administrations, said it was "highly inappropriate and unethical for Mr. Trump to the take any action that pertains to the FBI criminal investigation of Russian collusion and cooperation with Russia during the election, of which Mr. Trump and close associates are subjects."
Brennan, whose security clearance had been revoked by Trump, added, "He certainly has the authority to do it, but I do think it's highly inappropriate, and I think everybody who knows these issues feels similarly."
Meanwhile, Trump said on Twitter that the documents would show there was no basis for the surveillance of Carter Page, his campaign aide.
"Really bad things were happening, but they are now being exposed," Trump wrote. "Big stuff!"