President Trump has given Attorney General Bill Barr the tools to "investigate the investigators"—by granting him sweeping powers to declassify documents and directing intelligence officials to cooperate with Barr. The attorney general has launched his own probe into the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump's moves are an escalation of his effort to undermine the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the Los Angeles Times reports. Trump frequently says his campaign was spied on, and Barr has backed him up. Barr's new power will allow him to see the intelligence that sparked the investigation. That could create problems with intelligence agencies, including the FBI, opposed to such releases.
The White House said Barr had asked Trump to take these steps, per Politico. Democrats have criticized Barr for launching the investigation before they have all the answers they're seeking from Mueller. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted that Trump and Barr were working to "weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies." David Kris, who once ran the Justice Department's national security division, per the Times, called it "very unusual—unprecedented in my experience—for a non-intelligence officer to be given absolute declassification authority over the intelligence." (Read more William Barr stories.)