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Trump to Escalate Probe of Intel Groups05/24 06:32

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. intelligence 
community to "quickly and fully cooperate" with Attorney General William Barr's 
investigation of the origins of the multiyear probe of whether his 2016 
campaign colluded with Russia.

   The move Thursday marked an escalation in Trump's efforts to "investigate 
the investigators," as he continues to try to undermine the findings of special 
counsel Robert Mueller's probe amid mounting Democratic calls to bring 
impeachment proceedings against Trump.

   Press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump is delegating 
to Barr the "full and complete authority" to declassify documents relating to 
the probe, which would ease his efforts to review the sensitive intelligence 
underpinnings of the investigation. Such a move could create fresh tensions 
within the FBI and other intelligence agencies, which have historically 
resisted such demands.

   Barr has already asked John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to 
examine the origins of the Russia investigation to determine whether 
intelligence and surveillance methods used during the probe were lawful and 
appropriate. Still, Barr has been directly involved, according to a person 
familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, and is 
working with CIA Director Gina Haspel, Director of National Intelligence Dan 
Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

   Trump has frequently claimed his campaign was the victim of "spying," though 
the intelligence community has insisted it acted lawfully in following leads in 
the Russia investigation and conducted surveillance under court order.

   Wray vocally opposed the release by Congress last year of details from a 
secret surveillance warrant obtained by the bureau on a former campaign 
adviser, Carter Page. The White House had eagerly encouraged Republicans on the 
House intelligence committee to disclose that classified information, believing 
it could help undermine the Russia investigation.

   Wray, though cooperating with Barr in a review of the origins of the Russia 
probe, would presumably balk at declassifying classified information that could 
reveal sensitive sources or methods of investigators.

   Despite Mueller finding no evidence to support criminal charges against 
Americans related to Russia's actions, his report documented extensive Russian 
efforts to interfere in the 2016 campaign and willingness on the part of some 
in Trump's orbit to accept their aid.

   Thursday's move further solidifies Barr's position in Trump's eyes as a 
legal warrior on fighting on his behalf.

   After Mueller submitted his report to Barr in March, the attorney general 
released a four-page summary to Congress. Barr's letter framed the debate about 
the probe over the next few weeks and, White House officials believe, allowed 
Trump to declare victory before the release of the full report, the contents of 
which are far more ambiguous.

   Trump also appreciated Barr's combative stance with lawmakers and reporters 
as he defended the Justice Department's handling of the report, and again when 
he declined to appear before Congress and defied a subpoena, drawing a possible 
contempt charge. Trump has told close confidants that he "finally" had "my 
attorney general," according to two Republicans close to the White House who 
were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

   "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," 
Sanders said.

   Two of Trump's congressional allies, Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, were 
seen by reporters earlier Thursday at the Justice Department.


(KA)

 
 
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