President Donald Trump issued a sweeping order to the intelligence community on Thursday, directing it to comply with Attorney General Bill Barr’s efforts to probe the origins of the Russia investigation that has hung over his presidency. It also expanded Barr’s declassification authority.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released the following statement:
Today, at the request and recommendation of the Attorney General of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election. The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information. Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions.
News reports recently revealed that Barr had directed a U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the investigation, despite the fact that another U.S. attorney and the Justice Department inspector general have already been reviewing the case. Because of the president’s obvious hostility toward the investigation and Barr’s fealty to Trump, it appears to be a blatant effort to feed suspicions about the “deep state” and potentially to find reasons for targeting the president’s perceived enemies.
“Whoa,” said Matthew Miller, a former DOJ spokesman, in reacting to the announcement. “So Barr has the sole authority to declassify info related to the Trump investigation over the objections of the original classifying authority – CIA, NSA, etc. A huge accumulation of power and discretion to the AG that I believe is unprecedented.”
“National security takes a back seat to Trump demands that Barr gin up an investigation into public servants at DOJ & FBI. Also today, Trump called prosecutors killers & accused people by name of treason after a reminder the punishment is execution,” said Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor. “There’s no way this ends well.”