President Donald Trump looks on as U.S. Attorney General William Barr takes his seat at a presentation of Public Safety Medals of Valor to officers in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Attorney General William Barr’s review of the events that prompted the FBI to open an investigation into links 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,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said after Trump issued the directive.
The order also allows Barr to declassify any information he sees fit during his review.
Last month, Barr said at a Senate hearing that “spying” on Trump’s campaign was carried out by U.S. intelligence agencies, though he later referred to his concerns as focused on “unauthorized surveillance.”
Barr has assigned a top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to probe the origins of the Russia investigation in what is the third known inquiry into the opening of the FBI probe.
Trump, a Republican, harbours suspicions that the Democratic Obama administration ordered him investigated during the 2016 campaign to try to undermine his candidacy, and he wants payback against those he believes were responsible.
Of specific interest to Trump are the warrants that emanated from a secretive court that authorizes surveillance on foreign powers and their agents. Trump supporters believe the warrants will identify those responsible for the Russia probe that is still roiling Washington.
Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice; Editing by David Alexander and Leslie Adler