Well, I took the week off and recharged through the long Memorial Day weekend. I'll be back on a normal schedule tomorrow.
It's back to business, but the big story of last week remains Donald Trump and Bill Barr giving the game away as to what's coming next.
Attorney General William Barr is likely to consult with the intelligence community on how best to handle classified material related to the Russian investigation as he seeks out “corruption at the FBI and the DOJ,” the top White House spokeswoman said.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in defending President Donald Trump’s moves to declassify intelligence, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday without citing evidence that people within the agencies “were specifically working trying to take down the president, trying to hurt the president.”
“The president wants transparency, and he’s given the attorney general the ability to put that transparency in place, make those decisions,”’ Sanders said.
Sanders didn’t specifically respond to a question about whether Trump would accept “exoneration” of the motives behind the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, if that’s what Barr concludes. “I’m not going to get ahead of what the final conclusion is,” she said, adding, “we already know” that there was “a high level of corruption” and “wrongdoing.”
The president this week gave Barr broad authority to declassify information from the CIA and more than a dozen other U.S. intelligence agencies as part of a review of their role in what became a two-year special counsel probe into the election and Trump’s campaign.
Although Barr isn’t compelled to take suggestions from top U.S. intelligence officials, Sanders said there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t “do everything that is necessary to make sure we’re protecting important intelligence that is vital to our national security.”
“We expect that the attorney general will consult with them on matters that he needs that guidance and advice from them,” she said. “Certainly they work in lock step on a number of things. I don’t see this to be any different.”
Trump’s move has been cast by some as an attempt by the president to exact revenge on political opponents.
“It looks like he’s using the attorney general to be his personal lawyer,” Representative Eric Swalwell of California, one of about two dozen Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The actions by Trump and Barr could put a “chilling effect” on members of the intelligence community, including FBI agents, he said.
Rep. Swallwell is actually wrong on that point. It's not the declassification order that will have the chilling effect.
It will be the raft of Trumped-up indictments.
Barr will find something to charge FBI personnel on. Mishandling secure information, leaking to the hated press, something. Those charges I expect will be provided by the DoJ Inspector General's report on the FBI probe.
Trump's minions have been broadly hinting for months that former Obama administration intelligence officials like James Comey, John Brennan, and James Clapper would be facing charges, as well as the FBI agents who worked on the Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump campaign, like Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
The broad and unprecedented declassification power given to Barr means he can leak whatever evidence he can find to harm Democrats and the FBI. In turn, I expect escalating leaks against Barr himself...and maybe even Donald Trump. It's at that point that things will get truly ugly.
I don't know who will win this battle.