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
Millennials are moving to Trump-backing states — and the GOP should be terrified: columnist
Millennial voters are substantively more progressive than older generations of voters, but their political power has been diluted by the fact that many of them have been concentrated in cities in deep-blue states.
However, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson argues that this is about to change because more millennials are leaving the big blue-state cities to move out to metro areas in key states such as Arizona, Georgia and Texas.
"The five fastest-growing metros of the past few years -- Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta, and Orlando, Florida -- are in states won by Trump," he writes. "The other metro areas with a population of at least 1 million that grew by at least 1.5 percent last year were Las Vegas; Austin, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; San Antonio; Tampa, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee. All of those metros are in red or purple states."
‘The man who sold America’: Mitch McConnell’s mountain of political sins catalogued in devastating new profile
Mitch McConnell finally has the power he's longed for since he was a 22-year-old intern for Sen. John Sherman, but his ruthless march to become Senate majority leader has seen him abandon almost all of his stated principles -- and earned him a lot of enemies.
The Kentucky Republican has been unpopular in his home state for years, but this summer has seen his approval rating plunge to 18 percent after MSNBC's Joe Scarborough tarred and feathered him with the nickname "Moscow Mitch," and he's increasingly seen as "the man who sold America," reported Rolling Stone.
Sarah Sanders rages on Fox News that the ‘out-of-control’ media is ‘making stuff up’ about Trump
In her new gig as a Fox News contributor, former White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders complained to host Sean Hannity that the "out-of-control" media makes "stuff up" about Donald Trump because they hate him for winning in 2016.
Sanders, who once told reporters that "countless" FBI agents had lost confidence in James Comey only to later tell investigators from special counsel Robert Mueller's office that she made it up, complained to the Fox host about the press being untrustworthy.