Intelligence and law enforcement experts are stunned after President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he has just handed his Attorney General strong powers to declassify intelligence on “surveillance activities” undertaken during the 2016 presidential election. That would include actions taken by the FBI, CIA, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
Trump’s order giving Barr carte blanche came just hours after he literally called prosecutors who worked on the Mueller investigation “killers,” and accused FBI, DOJ, and possibly President Barack Obama of “treason” immediately after a reporter reminded him that the punishment for that crime is the death penalty.
Trump is insisting, as he has done for over two years, that President Barack Obama had then-candidate Trump’s “wires tapped,” an accusation the Dept. of Justice actually investigated and reported it could find no evidence to support President Trump’s claim.
Trump expanded that claim to say that the FBI spied on his campaign, despite having no evidence. Attorney General Bill Barr during an open and live-televised congressional hearing told lawmakers, “I think spying did occur.”
The deliberate use of the word “spying” rankled the intel community and many lawmakers.
This via Maddow tonight:
NEWS: David Laufman, former chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section at the DOJ calls Trump’s new directive “a grotesque abuse of the intelligence community.” pic.twitter.com/iTVpl4DnKD
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) May 24, 2019
Here’s how some experts are responding to the President’s order and accusations.
Former U.S. Attorney, now a law professor and MSNBC contributor:
National security takes a back seat to Trump demands that Barr gin up an investigation into public servants at DOJ & FBI. Also today, Trump called prosecutors killers & accused people by name of treason after a reminder the punishment is execution. There’s no way this ends well. https://t.co/6cGLtPzbXq
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) May 24, 2019
Former Chief of Counterintelligence and Export Control Section at Justice Dept.:
When the Dept. of Justice becomes a handmaiden to a political purge, it betrays both its core ideals and the countless prosecutors and agents dedicated to carrying out the rule of law without fear or favor.https://t.co/K9Vfxq0sXS
— David Laufman (@DavidLaufmanLaw) April 10, 2019
Former Director of the Office of Government Ethics:
Barr is the most dangerous member of Trump’s team in terms of the threat he poses to democracy and national security, which is really saying something when Bolton is a member of that team.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) May 24, 2019
Former CIA officer and former National Security Council spokesperson, currently an NBC News contributor:
Needless to say, Trump hasn’t made any effort to declassify anything related to Russia’s assault on our democracy. Everything we know, we learned from the intelligence assessment Obama ordered, the speaking indictments / report Mueller filed, and investigative reporting. https://t.co/EiVO0fDjxl
— Ned Price (@nedprice) May 24, 2019
Former Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Department of Justice, and a current MSNBC Justice & Security Analyst:
Whoa. So Barr has the sole authority to declassify info related to the Trump investigation over the objections of the original classifying authority – CIA, NSA, etc. A huge accumulation of power and discretion to the AG that I believe is unprecedented. https://t.co/xDTiurMyff
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) May 24, 2019
Professor at the U.S. Naval War College and academic specialist on international affairs:
This is just crazy. https://t.co/eKtc4HSIvx
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) May 24, 2019
New York Times editorial board writer on law and justice issues (and yes, he is being sarcastic):
Totally normal thing to include in a presidential memorandum: This thing expires “upon a vacancy in the office of the Attorney General.” https://t.co/pvl3fNoClg
— Cristian Farias (@cristianafarias) May 24, 2019
Vox co-founder and editor:
Some cool things about this:
1) Selectively declassifying things can be very misleading
2) Barr likes to deliberately mislead the public to help Trump
3) Reporters are aware of (2)
4) When (1) happens then despite (3) Barr’s deceptions will generate credulous headlines. https://t.co/UDJnrpfcSs
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) May 24, 2019
Jerry Falwell, Jr blasted as ‘un-Christian prat’ after trying to defend Donald Trump in battle with Southern Baptist ethics chief
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. was ripped online for attempting to rationalize President Donald Trump's detention camps for children.
Dr. Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, posted on Twitter an Associated Press story on the "perilous conditions" at a Texas Border Patrol station holding 300 children.
"The reports of the conditions for migrant children at the border should shock all of our consciences. Those created in the image of God should be treated with dignity and compassion, especially those seeking refuge from violence back home. We can do better than this," Moore wrote.
Prosecutors offered indicted GOP congressman a deal to keep his multiple taxpayer-funded trysts quiet — but he refused
On Tuesday, CNN reported that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), facing indictment for stealing campaign funds and falsifying spending reports, was offered a deal by to keep secret the incidents in which he used taxpayer money to finance affairs with lobbyists — but he refused.
"Prosecutors told a judge they tried to cut a deal with Hunter to avoid revealing the alleged tryst, but his attorneys refused," reported CNN's Tom Foreman.
The affairs were made public shortly after it was revealed that Hunter's wife Margaret, an alleged co-conspirator in the scheme, was cooperating with prosecutors. Hunter had previously tried to blame the entire scheme on his wife — a claim that looks increasingly dubious.
How one woman taunting a homeless McDonald’s employee turned his life around
A woman in Fayette County, Georgia recently took to Facebook to disparage a McDonald's worker who was sleeping in the restaurant. "I go and tell an employee there is someone is asleep in their booth and her response was 'oh yeah, we know hee hee, it's ok' and I said 'not really but whatever,'" she wrote.
It turned out the sleeping employee, Simon Childs, is a 21-year-old homeless father who had recently lost his mother and was trying to catch some rest between multiple shifts at the restaurant.