On Thursday night, President Trump gave orders for the intelligence community to submit to a Justice Department investigation into “surveillance activities” during the 2016 presidential election. The order also gives Attorney General William Barr extraordinarily broad latitude over the investigation, according to the New York Times.
Trump, as you may remember, is obsessed with the idea that the FBI and others in the intelligence community illegally investigated and surveilled his campaign in 2016. This includes the surveillance of his former campaign adviser Carter Page.
Now, Trump is teaming up with Barr to make sure these sneaky intelligence officials get their comeuppance.
Trump “directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election,” according to a statement from the White House.
“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,” the statement said.
It seems, however, that this move isn’t actually in accordance with long-established standards. In fact, many journalists and political commentators found it extremely significant. The Times said that it “gave Mr. Barr immense leverage over the intelligence community and enormous power over what the public learns about the roots of the Russia investigation.”
Barr justified this new authority by telling Fox News that “no one has really looked at” the surveillance of Trump’s 2016 campaign, a statement which is clearly false.
“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,” the White House statement said.
One thing is pretty clear: the FBI and other intelligence agencies impacted by this order are not going to be happy.
As the Associated Press points out, this move further enshrines Barr as Trump’s go-to guy, whom he can count on to stand up for him no matter what. Of course, that’s not the Attorney General of the U.S.’s actual job, which is supposed to be serving the American people. Oh well!