Trump to intelligence: ‘fully cooperate’ with inquiry into Mueller report origins

Trump to intelligence: ‘fully cooperate’ with inquiry into Mueller report origins

U.S. President Donald Trump has granted Attorney General William Barr new powers to review and potentially release classified information related to the origins of the Russian Federation investigation, a move aimed at accelerating Barr's inquiry into whether U.S. officials improperly surveilled Trump's 2016 campaign.

The president has the power to declassify whatever documents he sees fit. Trump and Barr, Schiff said in a statement Thursday night, are conspiring to "weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies". "If we're anxious about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be anxious about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale". Thursday's move by Trump to delegate declassification authority to Barr may set the stage for him to make certain documents related to Inspector General Michael Horowitz's work publicly available that would otherwise stay under wraps. While the memo states Barr should consult with the head of an agency before declassifying its secrets, it also demands that Barr get prompt responses and documents from the intelligence community.

But Democrats, like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., are blasting the president for allowing the release of classified materials, calling it a "corrupt escalation of the president's intention" to politicize the intelligence community.

The blanket order to allow declassification of data may quickly create rifts with USA allies as well. Much of it, according to a report in The Independent in 2017, came from the UK's GCHQ.

"The coverup has entered a new and unsafe phase", Schiff said in a statement released late Thursday.

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 24, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md, and then on to Tokyo.

Barr has said "spying" was conducted by the government against the Trump campaign - an accusation Trump has leveled repeatedly but that current and former Federal Bureau of Investigation officials have denied.

Trump's order marks the latest in a series of escalating steps he's taken towards investigating the investigators.

Barr has not provided any details on Horowitz's conclusions, but he suggested during a congressional hearing last month that "spying did occur" - touching off a firestorm over his language and criticism for generally declining to further elaborate on such incendiary claims.

He was likely alluding to intelligence agencies surveilling Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, who was the subject of several FISA warrants.

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