House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., criticized the Trump administration on Friday for dangerously politicizing the Intelligence Community (IC) and requested that agencies provide more information about the president's order allowing them to declassify information related to the Russia investigation.
Alleging Trump's policy threatened national security, Schiff requested that the IC provide all documents made available to Attorney General William Barr, inform his committee prior to any declassification, provide an assessement on declassification's harms to national security, and an in-person briefing on what the administration requested up to that point.
"President Trump's May 23, 2019 directive to you and other heads of agencies to assist and produce information to Attorney General William P. Barr ... represents a disturbing effort by the President and the Attorney General to politicize the Intelligence Community ("IC") and law enforcement, and raises grave concerns about inappropriate and misleading disclosures of classified information and IC sources and methods for political ends," Schiff said in a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Schiff was referring to the order Trump imposed in an effort to expedite his Justice Department's investigation into the Russia probe's origins. Questions arose -- as to how the Russia probe started -- after Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report was unable to conclude the president's 2016 campaign engaged in a conspiracy with Russia.
In his Friday letter, Schiff suggested that the administration's argument behind that investigation was a "conspiracy theory" that unfairly questioned the validity of Mueller's probe.
"The Special Counsel's report definitively establishes that the counterintelligence investigation was properly initiated based on credible information from an intelligence partner. Yet the Attorney General has called into question, without evidence, the validity of the predication of what became the Special Counsel's investigation," he said.
Trump, according to Schiff, endangered national security by granting Barr the authority to declassify information without consulting with the IC.
"This approach threatens national security by subverting longstanding rules and practices that obligate you and other heads of IC agencies to safeguard sources and methods and prevent the politicization of intelligence and law enforcement."
The Justice Department did not respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Barr has vowed to get to the bottom of the investigation's origins but said he faced difficulty in obtaining the answers he needed. "I assumed I’d get answers when I went in, and I have not gotten answers that are at all satisfactory," he told CBS in an interview aired on Friday.
Schiff's words echoed those of former FBI Director James Comey, who led the Russia investigation during the 2016 presidential election.
In a Washington Post op-ed published on Tuesday, Comey defended the investigation's origins and called Trump's suspicions a "conspiracy theory" that made "no sense."
"The FBI wasn’t out to get Donald Trump. It also wasn’t out to get Hillary Clinton. It was out to do its best to investigate serious matters while walking through a vicious political minefield," he said.
Republicans, however, have demanded accountability after the release of Mueller's report, pointing to the controversial Steele dossier's role in initiating the investigation. Former House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Fox News that Democrats weren't so much concerned with national security as they were with Trump uncovering their influence on the Russia investigation.
Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, have continued pressing the administration for more answers surrounding Mueller's investigation -- facing roadblocks as the president invoked executive privilege to avoid complying with subpoenas.
Some Democrats have taken the party's efforts further in calling for impeachment proceedings against the president.