Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who for two years has maintained he has undisclosed evidence of Trump campaign “collusion” with Russia, now is moving to insert himself in the president’s order allowing Attorney General William Barr to declassify documents related to the origins of the Russia probe.
As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he wrote letters to the intelligence chiefs, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray, NSA Director Paul Nakasone and CIA Director Gina Haspel, demanding that he be allowed to impose “vigorous oversight” of the release of the documents.
Among the episodes of interest to Barr is the use of the anti-Trump dossier funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and used by the Obama FBI and Justice Department as evidence to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.
Schiff told the intelligence chiefs the plan to make the information public “necessitates vigorous oversight by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.”
He claimed that the effort to release information is “a disturbing effort by the president and the attorney general to politicize the intelligence community and law enforcement.”
There could be “inappropriate and misleading disclosures of classified information and IC sources and methods for political ends,” he wrote.
He claimed that the report by special counsel Robert Mueller, which concluded the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia and found insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice, already has established “that the counterintelligence investigation was properly initiated based on credible information from an intelligence partner.”
He didn’t identify the “intelligence partner.”
And he complained that Barr “has called into question” the validity of the origins of the investigation.
Barr told Congress he is convinced the Obama administration used federal law enforcement agencies to “spy” on the Trump campaign. He said the circumstances need to be investigated to determine whether it was properly authorized.
Schiff said Barr’s “approach threatens national security by subverting longstanding rules and practices that obligate you and others heads of IC agencies to safeguard sources and methods and prevent the politicization of intelligence and law enforcement.”
The intel chairman said the declassification is an effort “to politicize the IC and law enforcement” and “delegitimize” the investigation.
He charges the president with “misconduct” but doesn’t elaborate.
His committee, he said, should “serve as a check on this abuse of power to ensure that the IC can fulfill its lawful mission and law enforcement can conduct appropriately predicated investigations of powerful government officials without fear of retribution.”
He requested an “in-person” briefing in which he would be given “all documents … regardless of form or classification” that are reviewed by the attorney general and notification before anything is declassified.
For support for his concerns, Schiff cited news reports, including from the anti-Trump CNN.