Now that President Trump has officially designated the Declassification Memorandum we can review the specifics for process, content and timing. Our previous research led to a set of expectations for the directive. Now, that we have the directive in hand, we gain increased clarity of purpose.
♦ First, President Trump has assigned ownership of the Directive to U.S. Attorney General William Barr. This part was predictable because the purpose of declassification would be to facilitate a DOJ review of how the intelligence apparatus was used in the 2016 election.
Additionally, because the DOJ review encompasses intelligence systems potentially weaponized in 2016 for political purposes and intents, President Trump carries: (a) declassification authority; but also: (b) an inherent conflict. In this DOJ endeavor candidate Trump would have been the target of corrupt agency activity; and therefore would be considered the target/victim if weaponization were affirmed by evidence.
To avoid the conflict President Trump designates the U.S. Attorney General as arbiter and decision-maker for the purposes of declassifying evidence within the investigation:
…”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.” (link)
Additionally, AG Bill Barr does not need to assemble the intelligence product for approval by the executive (Trump). Instead the office of the president is granting the AG full unilateral decision-making as to each product being considered for declassification.
This is a huge amount of trust from the President to the Attorney General, and a big responsibility for William Barr:
[Sec 2] …”With respect to any matter classified under Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009 (Classified National Security Information), the Attorney General may, by applying the standard set forth in either section 3.1(a) or section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526, declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence that relates to the Attorney General’s review referred to in section 1 of this memorandum.” (read more)
The position-designate slightly works around custom insofar as the intelligence hub, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (Dan Coats), is given conference – but the decision making is designated to the Attorney General (Bill Barr).
Essentially the DNI will be following the instructions of the AG for this Memorandum. This is slightly unusual; but given the purpose, necessary and expected.
♦ Secondly, following protocol, the Memorandum is specific to the agencies carrying the documentation that will be reviewed by the Attorney General: The Secretary of State (Pompeo); the Secretary of Treasury (Mnuchin); the Secretary of Defense (Shanahan); the Secretary of Energy (Perry); the Secretary of Homeland Security (McAleenan); the Director of National Intelligence (Coats); the Director of the CIA (Haspel), and the Attorney General himself (Barr).
The agencies give insight into the intelligence product (ie. evidence) being reviewed. The Treasury and Energy agency was surprisingly notable:
Considering the purpose of the Memorandum: “The Attorney General is currently conducting a review of intelligence activities relating to the campaigns in the 2016 Presidential election and certain related matters“… The appearance of Treasury and Energy would indicate the pre-existence of investigative evidence; that would be subject to ongoing DOJ review; and potentially be part of ongoing proceedings.
Potential target issues could include: (1) an investigation of Uranium One; (2) an investigation of the Clinton Foundation; and, (3) an investigation of matters related to payments to Iran.
Treasury would come into play with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS); which was part of the Uranium One process and also included the Dept. of Energy. Additional related matters could include George Papadopoulos $10k (Treasury); and The Clinton Foundation. [Obviously this is supposition, but there are not too many alternate investigative pathways for intelligence within Treasury and Energy.]
The absence of FBI in the memorandum designation is not unusual as the FBI is an internal agency of the DOJ where Barr already has supervision and decision-making authority.
However, that said, one does have to wonder where current FBI Director Christopher Wray, current Deputy Director David Bowditch and current FBI legal counsel Dana Boente line-up within the DOJ investigation itself.
♦ Third, within the memorandum the President does not allow AG Bill Barr to delegate authority. However, all agencies are required to respond to Barr’s authority.
The purpose of the Declassification Directive also appears to permit the DOJ Inspector General to include classified material in the body of the upcoming report on FISA abuse; this memorandum is granting AG Bill Barr the autonomy to make that decision and declassify that content.
♦ Lastly, regarding the timing of release…. While the purpose of the authority is to empower AG Bill Barr to collect, process and declassify intelligence product that is part of the DOJ investigative review, this does not preclude the public release of intelligence information in advance of the IG report on potential FISA abuse.
Much of the intelligence information may be collected external to the IG review parameters (FISA process), and may be released independently as part of stand-alone declassification that pertains to weaponized DOJ, FBI and CIA political activity.
Ultimately the decision to release, and the timing therein, is now in the hands of U.S. Attorney General William Barr.