Note: This story is developing and will be updated
President Donald Trump directed the intelligence community Thursday to “quickly and fully cooperate” with Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 presidential election, said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
In Thursday’s memo Trump ordered the Department of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, Secretary of Energy, Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence and the director of the CIA to assist Barr in his review of the activities of the agencies during the FBI’s probe into alleged – now debunked – collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“Today, at the request and recommendation of the Attorney General of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election,” said Sanders in a statement released late Thursday. “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.”
“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,” she added.
The review will be expansive, according to the memo and department’s involved. Declassification and downgrading of highly classified material will be involved, as stated in the president’s memo.
Lawmakers have been calling on Trump to declassify the documents for more than a year. Those documents include the DOJ’s Gang of Eight briefing notebook that was presented only to a select group of lawmakers in the Senate and House last summer, who have access to classified material, according to numerous congressional sources.
The third bulk of documents consists of 12 interviews the FBI conducted with DOJ official Bruce Ohr in 2016 regarding his communications with former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the anti-Trump unverified dossier. Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for the now embattled research firm Fusion GPS, that was hired by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to investigate alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Steele was hired by Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, who among others has testified to Congress about his role.
From Trump’s Memo:
With respect to any matter classified under Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009 (Classified National Security Information), the Attorney General may, by applying the standard set forth in either section 3.1(a) or section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526, declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence that relates to the Attorney General’s review referred to in section 1 of this memorandum. Before exercising this authority, the Attorney General should, to the extent he deems it practicable, consult with the head of the originating intelligence community element or department. This authority is not delegable and applies notwithstanding any other authorization or limitation set forth in Executive Order 13526.