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

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTimeline: The Trump whistleblower complaint Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Trump asked Ukraine president to investigate Biden's son eight times in one phone call: reports MORE (D-Calif.) on Friday asked for in-person briefings from U.S. intelligence chiefs regarding President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE’s directive that they comply with Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFeinstein calls on Justice to push for release of Trump whistleblower report Clarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Democrats to seek ways to compel release of Trump whistleblower complaint 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 CoatsTimeline: The Trump whistleblower complaint Trump has named more ex-lobbyists to Cabinet in 3 years than Obama, Bush did in full terms: report Hillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws 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 ComeyNadler's House committee holds a faux hearing in search of a false crime We've lost sight of the real scandal Former Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report 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.