President Donald Trump gave Attorney General Bill Barr sweeping new power to investigate the investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia and declassify any documents he wants regardless of the objections of intelligence community officials, The New York Times reports.
Trump ordered the CIA and 15 other intelligence agencies to provide Barr with all documents he requests and authorizes Barr to unilaterally pick and choose which documents to declassify.
The move came hours after Trump accused former FBI Director James Comey, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI officials involved in the early stages of the Russia investigation of treason because they launched an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.
Trump previously dropped a similar plan to release documents related to the Russia probe over the concerns from Justice Department officials who warned the release could damage national security.
Order lets Barr weaponize intel against Trump’s enemies:
“While Trump stonewalls the public from learning the truth about his obstruction of justice, Trump and Barr conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies,” wrote House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. “The coverup has entered a new and dangerous phase. This is un-American.”
Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff at the CIA during the Obama administration, warned that the move could have disastrous consequences.
“Stripping the intelligence leaders of their ability to control information about sources and methods, and handing that power to political actors, could cause human agents to question whether their identity will be protected,” Bash told The Washington Post.
“Trump authorizes Barr to reveal whatever he wants about the Russia investigation, yet they refuse to reveal the full Mueller Report and evidence,” noted Daily Beast editor Justin Miller.
Barr dines out at Trump Hotel:
Amid Trump’s unprecedented move, Barr was pictured dining out at Trump’s Washington DC hotel on Wednesday.
“Attorney General William Barr was photographed dining at the Trump Hotel in DC Wednesday night — a business his boss still owns and profits from, and one that has become something of a de facto clubhouse for people looking to curry favor with the president,” the watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington tweeted.
Barr, who issued a wildly misleading letter summarizing the Mueller report findings and has since attempted to legitimize Trump’s conspiracy theories that the FBI “spied” on his campaign while moving forward with multiple investigations into the origins of the Russia probe, “has now taken things further and patronized the president’s business on the same night of an event meant to help his reelection campaign,” wrote Vox’s Aaron Rupar.
“That the Lynch-Clinton meeting was a huge scandal and Barr’s trip to the Trump International isn’t reflects the extent to which the Trump administration has normalized corruption,” he added.