A seemingly panicked House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff fired off letters to the heads of ODNI, CIA, FBI and NSA Friday, demanding that they give in-person briefings to his committee on anything President Trump, Attorney General William Barr, or any of their associates have requested or conveyed regarding Barr’s inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation.
In the letters, Schiff called the inquiry a “disturbing effort” on the part of the president and attorney general to politicize the intelligence community and law enforcement.
“This approach threatens national security by subverting longstanding rules and practices that obligate you and other heads of IC agencies to safeguard sources and methods and prevent the politicization of intelligence and law enforcement,” Schiff wrote in the letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
“The Special Counsel’s report definitively establishes that the counterintelligence investigation was properly initiated based on credible information from an intelligence partner,” Schiff claims in his letter. He then casts aspersions on the AG for calling into question “without evidence” the validity of the Trump/Russia investigation.
“Most perniciously, the directive seeks to enlist your agencies in an effort by the President and the Attorney General to politicize the IC and law enforcement, to delegitimize a well-founded investigation into the president, and to attack the president’s enemies,” Schiff complained.
Trump, however, claims that he issued the directive for the purpose of transparency.
“I don’t care about payback,” the president told reporters last week. “I think it’s very important for our country to find out what happened.”
In an interview Friday on “CBS This Morning,” Barr hinted that the DOJ was investigating whether FBI and DOJ officials “violated protocols to launch an unprecedented counterintelligence probe into a political rival.”
“These counter-intelligence activities that were directed at the Trump Campaign were not done in the normal course and not through the normal procedures as a far as I can tell,” Barr told CBS News’ legal analyst Jan Crawford. “And a lot of the people who were involved are no longer there.”
Conservative radio host and frequent Fox News guest Dan Bongino slammed the intel chairman on Twitter, saying “Adam Schiff is moving to DEFCON 1 on the panic scale. He knows Barr is fully intent on uncovering the biggest political spying scandal in American history and he’s doing his best to run interference. Schiff is the sleaziest member of Congress.”
In his letter, Schiff asked intelligence officials to report to Congress any effort by Barr to declassify documents related to the probe. He also asked officials inform the House Intelligence Committee if Barr plans to declassify documents over objections from the intelligence community, and to “provide an assessment of the harms to national security.”
“In the wake of the directive, the Committee will conduct rigorous, ongoing oversight of your agency and others in the IC to ensure that the Attorney General does not abuse his new and sweeping authority,” Schiff wrote in the Coats letter.
NEW: @RepAdamSchiff sent letters to heads of ODNI, CIA, FBI and NSA taking aim at the new DOJ review of the Russia probe, asking them to provide his committee with any materials requested by Barr, and to tell the panel if they object to any decision Barr makes to declassify info pic.twitter.com/0VZUkL4ygV
— Jeremy Herb (@jeremyherb) May 31, 2019
Schiff asked for a response by June 6.
In a statement last week, Coats said that he would provide Barr with the “appropriate information” in his review, and that he had confidence the attorney general would 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.”
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)