In a move that represents a massive threat to the institutional and operational integrity of America’s intelligence agencies, President Trump took extraordinary steps to give Attorney General William Barr sweeping new authority to review how the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia were investigated, significantly escalating efforts to place those who investigated the campaign under scrutiny.
The orders will give Barr oversight to compel the CIA, the FBI and more than a dozen of other intelligence agencies to declassify documents. Trump’s order came just hours after he claimed former FBI Director James Comey and former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe were guilty of “treason”.
He’s a great gentleman and a highly respected man,” Trumps told reporters before leaving on a trip for Japan. The president denies the decision is about retribution, saying, “It’s not about payback, I don’t care about payback.”
The attorney general has launched his own probe into the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In a statement, Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders said this move of president could create fresh tensions withing the FBI and other intelligence agencies, which have historically resisted such demands.
Former intelligence officials and Democratic lawmakers criticized Trump’s move, which marked an escalation in his efforts to “investigate the investigators” as he works to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Trump’s announcement came amid mounting Democratic calls to bring impeachment proceedings against him.