Former intelligence officials and Democratic lawmakers criticized Trump's move, which marked an escalation in his efforts to "investigate the investigators" as he works to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
President Donald Trump directed the intelligence community Thursday to "quickly and fully cooperate" with Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr's investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 presidential election, said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
Last month, Barr said at a Senate hearing that "spying" on Trump's campaign was carried out by United States intelligence agencies, though he later referred to his concerns as focused on "unauthorized surveillance". He was likely alluding to intelligence agencies surveilling Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, who was the subject of several FISA warrants.
Conservative lawmakers, such as Meadows, have insisted to friends in the administration that declassifying these documents will help Trump protect his presidency and further distance himself from any political fallout from the Russian Federation investigation, according to multiple people involved in those discussions.
Trump explicitly granted Barr declassification power - noting it would not automatically extend to another attorney general - and only for use in the review of the Russian Federation investigation.
"Comey, Brennan, Clapper, we're draining the swamp, folks", Trump told a rally on Monday in Pennsylvania, referring to former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, former CIA director John Brennan and James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, all of whom have been critical of Trump.
Some former intelligence officials and Democrats worry that Barr will cherry-pick intelligence to paint a misleading picture about the roots of the probe.
"Trump and Barr conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies", Rep. Adam Schiff commented, describing the transparent declassification efforts and release of information to the public as a "coverup" and "un-American". "The coverup has entered a new and unsafe phase", Schiff tweeted.
Trump's memo highlights how much he has grown to trust Barr.
Thursday's move further solidifies Barr's position in Trump's eyes as a legal warrior on fighting on his behalf.
The memorandum directs the head of intelligence agencies to "promptly provide" information to Mr Barr upon his request. "O$3 n more than 30 occasions" Trump said he "does not "recall" or "remember" or have an "independent recollection" in response to questions, while other answers were "incomplete or imprecise", the Mueller report said.
Trump, leaving the White House on Friday for Japan, told reporters that the investigation was "an attempted coup".