Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that he is “confident” Attorney General Bill Barr will “protect” classified info while the intelligence community cooperates with him, in a Friday statement addressing Trump’s decision to allow Barr to publicize intelligence relating to the start of the Russia probe.
Coats also said that the intelligence community will “continue” to share “apolitical intelligence” with the rest of the government.
The statement comes one day after the President issued an order to the CIA and the rest of the country’s intelligence agencies to cooperate with Justice Department investigations examining the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.
Trump delegated huge authority in the order to Barr, who now has the power to declassify documents that he receives from the intelligence community without additional review.
“I am confident that the Attorney General will work with the [intelligence community] in accordance with the long-established standards to protect highly-sensitive classified information that, if publicly released, would put our national security at risk,” Coats said.
House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff called Trump’s order a “corrupt escalation” of a bid to “weaponize and politicize the nation’s intelligence and law enforcement entities” in a Friday statement.
“The potential selective release of material that implicates sources and methods will undermine the Intelligence Community’s efforts to gather intelligence, including on future attacks on our elections as well as other key intelligence targets, putting not only sources at risk, but the nation’s security along with them,” Schiff said.
Trump’s order marks the latest in a series of escalating steps he’s taken towards investigating the investigators. That strategy began as a narrative that Republicans deployed to counter the Mueller investigation, alleging “spying” by the Obama Administration on the Trump campaign.
But with Barr promising to take on the “spying” allegations himself, this appears to have mutated into a full-fledged probe of its own. The Attorney General said at a May 1 hearing before Congress that he “envision[s] some kind of reporting at the end of this.”