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Possible conflict over secrets threatens between judicial authority and C.I.A.



WASHINGTON – President Trump's request that Attorney General William P. Barr allow the release of information leading to the investigation of Russia leads to a potential confrontation with C.I.A. It effectively deprives the authority of its most critical power: the choice of which secrets it shares and which ones remain hidden.

Mr. Trump said Friday that he wanted Mr. Barr "to get to the heart of things", which the intelligence services knew about the investigation into his campaign. He promised, "We reveal everything."

The President asked questions about C.I.A. Involvement in the origins of the investigation in Russia, and other officials said Mr. Barr wanted to learn more about sources in Russia, including an important informant who told the C.I.A. come to the conclusion that President Vladimir Putin ordered the entry into the 201

6 elections. Trump also relied on two close allies, Australia and the UK, and told reporters that he wanted the Attorney General to examine their role in sharing information about Russia's interference. Since the publication of the Müller Report, the President has been trying to draw attention to his allegations that F.B.I. and intelligence spied on his campaign. The new order, former officials said, could be thought to provide more ammunition for these efforts.

The intelligence agencies announced Friday that they would not reveal their secrets so easily. Dan Coats, director of the National Intelligence Service, promised to cooperate in the review, but also warned that the secrets of the intelligence community or the I.C. must be protected.

"I am confident that the Attorney General will be in contact with the I.C. in line with the long established standards for protecting highly sensitive classified information whose publication would jeopardize our national security, "Coats said in a statement.

The ultimate authority to release documents, however, rests with the President, Mr. Trump's delegation of this power to Mr. Barr has Mr. Coats and the CIA effectively stripped of control over their secrets. The move could jeopardize the authorities' ability to keep the identity of their sources a secret, former intelligence officials said.

Mr. Coats and Gina Haspel, C.I.A. Director, will fight hard to ensure that their most valuable secrets – the identity of sources – are protected, former officials have said. Ms. Haspel was described as a fierce political warrior but she was also careful to build a close working relationship with Mr. Barr, former officials said.

Traditionally, C.I.A. was largely effective in intramural government battles because its power stems from its information and its closely guarded secrets. By relinquishing these powers to the intelligence services, Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr may have received the C.I.A. weakened. The name of the F.B.I. The informant who was involved in the first investigation of Trump's contacts with Russia was accidentally released .

"When you compromise agents, lives can be lost. That's why this is so sensitive, "said Senator Angus King, independent Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview. "It's important to be extremely careful in this area. That is my only concern, and I hope Mr Barr recognizes that. "

Mr. Barr asked Mr. Trump for the clearance authority, a Justice Department official said Thursday. He did not detail the information he sought, but some officials said he was interested in how the C.I.A. Putin ordered the intervention campaign in 2016.

The best-known source of information for the C.I.A. Russia's electoral failure was a person who was close to Putin and provided information about his involvement, former officials said. The source provided evidence of one of the last important findings President Barack Obama published before leaving office: Putin himself behind the Russia hack.

Long fed by the CIA, the source rose to a position that enabled the informant in 2016 to provide important information about the role of the Russian leadership in the interference campaign, officials said.

John O. Brennan, CIA The director under Mr. Obama would bring reports from the source directly to the White House and remove them from the President's daily news program, fearing that the information document was too widespread, officials said. Instead, he would put them in an envelope so that Mr. Obama and a tiny circle of adjutants could read them.

But Mr. Trump's promise to release a wide range of documents suggests that Mr. Barr's mandate is more extensive than investigating a single mandate source. Mr. Trump's remarks in which he mentioned Britain and Australia seemed to indicate that the FBI was investigating George Papadopoulos, a former Adjutant of Trump.

In the summer of 2016, Papadopoulos said Russia had made an offer to help the Trump campaign by publishing stolen democratic emails. The F.B.I. Instructs an informant, Stefan Halper, to speak with Mr Papadopoulos, an investigative technique that caused Mr Trump to reproach the office for spying on his campaign.

Mr. Barr has picked up on the term "espionage" and called him several times in recent weeks to describe the steps of the F.B.I. It would have been inappropriate for the intelligence services to rely on Mr Papadopoulos' information, Mr King said.

came and said that the CIA or F.B.I. and they have not initiated any counterintelligence investigations, they would be guilty of misconduct, "he said. "If they ignored that, it would have been unacceptable prosecution, especially if it was an opponent trying to undermine our country."

He also said the intelligence committee had looked at both the FBI and the CIA. s role in the origins of the Russia investigation. He said the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency played a role in the investigation, but said that was correct.

Some revelations about intelligence campaigns related to the 2016 campaign have angered officials in Britain, Australia and other closely related countries, according to former officials. Giving more information about British or Australian cooperation in the investigation could deepen tensions with two of America's closest intelligence partners.

"It is another step that raises questions from our allies and partners about sharing sensitive intelligence services with them." said Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA and host of the podcast Intelligence Matters.

Mr. Morell said that Mr. Coats, not the attorney general, was in the best position to determine what information would be harmful if released. Until the Iraq war, information on Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction was selected to justify the 2003 invasion.

But Mr. Trump's order could inflict enormous damage on the CIA and hamper other intelligence agencies that dehydrate sources and their ability to gather information, said MP Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

"The president now appears to be intent on outclassing information to arm her," Schiff said in an interview.

Mr Trump has long held that he was a target of the "deep state" and in various places accused Mr Obama of having no evidence that he secretly tried to undermine his phones, the FBI's candidacy, and former intelligence chiefs to bend their findings to prove Russia's participation in his electoral victory. Elections 2016 However, the Muller report left no question open that the Russian leadership was behind both the theft and the publication of e-mails and other Democratic data and a social media campaign that ultimately contributed to the candidacy of Mr. Trump

Mr. Schiff promised that his committee would hear Mr. Barr's actions in the Down closely monitor the search. "We will expose every abuse and politicization of the intelligence services," he said.


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