President Donald Trump issued an order Thursday allowing Attorney General William Barr to declassify any information Barr sees fit during his review of the events that prompted the FBI to open an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The order also directed leaders of the U.S. intelligence community and other departments and agencies to cooperate with Barr during his review.
The memorandum to the heads of agencies to cooperate with Barr’s inquiry included the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Department, State Department, and Energy Department.
“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,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, per the Washington Examiner.
“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,” she added. “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.”
Response from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was swift.
“The fact of the matter is this is all nonsense,” he declared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
“There is no basis whatsoever to believe that anybody in the intelligence community did anything wrong in terms of starting the investigation or the Hillary [Clinton] email investigation,” Rep. Nadler added. “What they’re really trying to do is to divert attention from the Mueller report and from the president’s actions against the rule of law to an imaginary scandal.
“It’s part of the Trump and Republican plot to dirty up the intelligence community, to pretend that there’s something wrong with the beginning of the Mueller investigation and to persecute and bring into line the intelligence agencies.”
Trump has promised the action for nearly a year.
In a Sept. 17, 2018, statement, the White House said Trump had ordered the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice to prove certain portions of the June 2017 application to the FISA court concerning Carter Page, FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation, and FBI reports of interviews prepared related to the Page FISA applications.
He also ordered the public release of “all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.”
But within days he backed down, the Examiner noted.
“I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents,” Trump tweeted. “They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release.
“Therefore, the Inspector General has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end, I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me — and everyone!”
Barr has asked U.S. Attorney John Durham to review the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and has said he is working with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is expected to soon wrap up a FISA abuse investigation.
Newsmax’s Cathy Burke contributed to this report.
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