Schiff requests briefings from intel chiefs on Barr 'spying' probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJohnson: Whistleblower 'exposed things that didn't need to be exposed' Schiff knocks Mulvaney over failure to testify in impeachment probe Impeachment hearings likely to get worse for Republicans MORE (D-Calif.) on Friday asked for in-person briefings from U.S. intelligence chiefs regarding President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE’s directive that they comply with Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse MORE’s inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation.

Schiff sent letters to agency heads requesting “all documents, material, or information” provided or made available to Barr as part of his review. The attorney general is reviewing the intelligence collected on the Trump campaign in 2016 — which Barr has described as “spying” — to determine whether it was adequately predicated.

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Friday's letters to the Office of Director of National Intelligence, CIA, FBI and National Security Agency come roughly a week after Trump directed the intelligence community (IC) to comply with Barr’s review. The president also gave Barr broad powers to declassify and potentially release documents related to the inquiry.

Schiff and other Democrats have been highly critical of the move, accusing Trump of attempting to politicize U.S. intelligence.

“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,” Schiff wrote in the letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant Intelligence agencies have stopped collecting cellphone data without warrants: letter This week: Democrats churn toward next phase of impeachment fight MORE.

Schiff asked intelligence officials to give the committee advance notice of any effort by Barr to declassify documents related to the probe. He also requested that officials inform the House Intelligence Committee if Barr plans to declassify documents over objections from the intelligence community, and to “provide an assessment of the harms to national security.”

“In the wake of the directive, the Committee will conduct rigorous, ongoing oversight of your agency and others in the IC to ensure that the Attorney General does not abuse his new and sweeping authority,” Schiff wrote in the Coats letter.

Schiff asked for a response by June 6. He sent similar letters to the heads of the CIA, FBI and NSA, according to a committee official.

A spokesman for Coats confirmed the office had received the letter but didn't comment further. An NSA spokesman also confirmed the agency received the letter.

Both the FBI and CIA declined to comment. 

Trump and other Republicans have long suggested that the Russia investigation was improperly started by FBI agents biased against Trump in 2016.

Trump, who has claimed that former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyChris Wallace on Yovanovitch testimony: 'If you're not moved, you don't have a pulse' Day one impeachment hearings draw 13.1M viewers, down 32 percent from Comey hearings There are poor ideas, bad ones and Facebook's Libra MORE and others engaged in “treason,” has been accused of trying to go after his political enemies by supporting Barr’s investigation. Last week, Trump said he issued the directive for the purpose of transparency.

“I don’t care about payback,” the president told reporters. “I think it's very important for our country to find out what happened.”

Former officials say the directive could create tension between Trump and the intelligence community and potentially chill existing intelligence sources or make it difficult to cultivate new ones going forward.

Coats said in a statement last week that he would provide Barr with the “appropriate information” in his review, adding that he had confidence the attorney general would work with the intelligence community “in accordance with the long-established standards to protect highly-sensitive classified information that, if publicly released, would put our national security at risk.”

In a CBS interview that aired Friday, Barr did not go into detail about his inquiry but said he has “more questions” about the collection of intelligence on the 2016 campaign.

“In fact, I probably have more questions,” Barr told CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford. “Some of the facts I have learned don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened.”

—Updated at 6:29 p.m.