President Donald Trump on Thursday directed the intelligence community to cooperate with a Justice Department probe into “surveillance activities” during the 2016 presidential election, also granting Attorney General William Barr authority to declassify information related to the investigation into Russian meddling.
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 White House press statement.
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“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.
Trump has repeatedly called for a counter-investigation into the various probes into the 2016 election, which the president characterized as partisan and unjust “presidential harassment.” During an April hearing before Congress, Barr said he believed “spying did occur” by U.S. intelligence against the then-candidate Trump in the lead up to Election Day 2016.
Barr further defended the need for greater review beyond the Mueller investigation into 2016, saying on Fox news that “No one has really looked at” the government’s activities during that time.
Trump made Thursday’s decision at Barr’s behest, according to the statement.
“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.
Trump declined in September to declassify sensitive information related to the FBI’s 2016 probe, passing the onus of checking for any anti-Trump bias to the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, whom he once mocked as an “Obama guy.”