On Thursday evening, US President Donald Trump granted Barr sweeping powers to review and declassify documents related to how the Russia collusion investigation was conducted.
According to a Thursday White House statement, "The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information."
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) May 24, 2019
During an April hearing before Congress, Barr stated that "spying did occur" on members of the Trump presidential campaign in the lead up to the 2016 elections. John H. Durham, US attorney in Connecticut, has been tapped by Barr to examine the inception of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, the New York Times recently reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. John W. Huber, the United States attorney in Utah, is also examining aspects of the investigation, the Times reported.
"It seems for some time that we've known that [there] was spying on the Trump campaign, and it's interesting because there are so many ironies here. While Trump is often compared to [former US President Richard] Nixon and Russiagate compared to Watergate, in fact, spying on someone else's presidential campaign is very Nixonian," Kovalik told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.
"And it is very clear that the intelligence services were spying on the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016. I don't think anyone can dispute that, and it's going to be very interesting to find out who gave the order to do that."
Many news outlets, including NPR and the New York Times, have suggested that Barr's investigation on surveillance activities is a kind of abuse of power to "get the intelligence agencies to open up their documents about the roots of Russiagate," Kovalik explained.
"[However], I think all of us should welcome [the investigation into the intelligence agencies]. In truth, what is good for the goose is good for the gander," Kovalik noted.
In a interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, Barr insisted that "government power was used to spy on American citizens," without outlining any specifics.
James Comey, who was FBI director during Trump's presidential campaign, referred to Barr's allegation as "concerning," adding that he did not consider court-directed electronic surveillance as "spying."
During the campaign, the FBI obtained warrants to monitor the communications of several Trump campaign team members, including foreign policy advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. The bureau claimed it obtained the warrants in an effort to investigate suspected connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, or to follow alleged attempts by Moscow to establish such a connection, Sputnik previously reported.
"We have a right to know [if Trump campaign members were being spied on]. It is a very important public concern, because we have been told for two years now that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and we have been told that there was such powerful evidence of this which led them to spy on the Trump campaign. Well, tell us what that evidence was. We have a right to know that. Why don't we find out everything about this? It is troubling that people are really resisting this," Kovalik told Sputnik.
Following Mueller's completion of his report on the probe, Barr released a four-page memo summarizing the 448-page document. According to lawmakers, the attorney general's memo "deliberately" misrepresented the report's details. In his report, Mueller stated that there was no direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but did not come to a conclusive position regarding potential obstruction of justice.
"The attorney general is a civilian position, and the intelligence activities should be subservient to the civilian government. I think this is great — if Barr forces the intelligence agencies to disclose information about this. The irony here is that you have the liberal establishment opposing doing this, wanting the intelligence agencies to keep their secrets, while the Trump supporters are now pushing for those secrets to be revealed. So now, everything is flipped on its head. We have predicted that this Russiagate scandal will backfire on the Democrats in 2020, and it looks it's going to horribly, because now Trump has the upper hand on this," Kovalik explained.
"I suspect that those resisting this are resisting it because in the end, there wasn't sufficient evidence to base the spying on. All of this needs to be exposed so we know, in the end, what we suspected all along: that this was a potlicial ruse and not a matter of true national security," Kovalik concluded.