Trump Empowers Barr to Declassify Intelligence as He Audits Russia Probe

Another move by Donald Trump that is just stunningly brazen: He has given Attorney General Bill Barr the unilateral power to declassify secret intelligence as part of an audit of intelligence agencies' investigation of Russian election interference.

And naturally, he's orchestrating this grand authoritarian maneuver under the auspices of "transparency."

Devlin Barrett, Carol D. Leonnig, Robert Costa, and Colby Itkowitz at the Washington Post report:
[Donald] Trump has granted Attorney General William P. Barr "full and complete authority" to declassify government secrets, issuing a memorandum late Thursday that orders U.S. intelligence agencies to cooperate promptly with Barr's audit of the investigation into Russia's election interference in 2016.

The president's move gives Barr broad powers to unveil carefully guarded intelligence secrets about the Russia investigation, which the attorney general requested to allow him to quickly carry out his review, according to the memo.

"Today's action will 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 said in an accompanying statement, which Trump then tweeted.

...The move is likely to further anger Democrats who have said that Barr is using his position as the nation's top law enforcement official to aggressively protect the president and attack his critics.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee leads one of the ongoing congressional investigations of Trump, called the action "un-American." Trump and Barr, Schiff said in a statement Thursday night, are conspiring to "weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies." ‬

The president is the government's highest authority over whether national secrets remain classified. His order gives Barr significant authority over agencies that typically hold their secrets close and don't declassify them easily.
This is very bad. I don't even know what else to say other than that. It's another catastrophic erosion of our democracy, and it demands accountability, and there is no one empowered to deliver consequences who feels inclined to do it.

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