The need for declass has been obvious since the very start of the Trump administration. Perhaps Trump initially believed that the problem would go away, but with the start of the Mueller Inquisition the overwhelming need for training a spotlight on the Deep State coup attempt could no longer be denied. Unfortunately, by that point declass had become a practical impossibility.
The reason for this practical impossibility of declass lies in the fact that all the agencies involved--and there are many--get a say in the process. The President has too much going on in his life to ride herd over the process. He needs a strong leader with authority to serve as his proxy. We know that Jeff Sessions betrayed the country by recusing himself. The country was further betrayed by Rod Rosenstein who cooperated with the stonewalling agencies--especially the FBI and CIA--rather than with the President. And, importantly, NeverTrumpers in the Senate also worked against the President--who was vocally frustrated by what was going on. But they had Trump over a barrel, as the two top GOP senators on the Judiciary committee clearly stated:
Republican lawmakers [had] long warned the president against firing Sessions and tried to prevent him from doing so by signaling their refusal to confirm a replacement. Graham himself said a year ago there would be “holy hell to pay” if Trump fired Sessions and stated point-blank: “There will be no confirmation hearing for a new attorney general in 2017. Grassley, too, was adamant he would not clear time on the Judiciary Committee’s schedule for confirmation hearings for another attorney general.
The break came in the late political season of 2018 when the Senate returned to Washington, DC. The Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination was the main item before the public eye, but something had changed. Kavanaugh was top of the agenda, but Grassley and Graham openly stated that a change was needed:
... top Senate Republicans sent dueling signals about whether it would be safe for President Donald Trump to fire the attorney general, a move he has contemplated with anticipation for almost a year and a half but held back because Republicans senators had warned him they would not confirm a successor.
That changed on Thursday when Sen. Lindsey Graham touched off a furious debate on Capitol Hill, appearing almost to encourage Trump to send Sessions packing. The South Carolina senator said he was open to confirming another attorney general and that concerns his colleagues once harbored that Sessions’ firing would set off a chain of potentially fatal events for the president, culminating in his dismissal of special counsel Robert Mueller, were no longer operative.
“Mueller is down the road,” Graham told reporters. “To those who believe that the only way that you can protect Mueller is to keep Jeff Sessions as attorney general forever — I don’t buy it.”
Earlier in the day, GOP leaders had moved quickly to quell a rebellion against Sessions sparked by Graham’s remarks. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa) had chimed in to say that he, too, was open to confirming another attorney general.
We still don't know all that went into the decision by Graham and Grassley--their own frustrations with Sessions may well have had more to do with the change than the ongoing travesty of the Russia Hoax, although that certainly had to have played a role. Had they also been influenced by Trump's camp floating Bill Barr's name after Barr sent his famous 19 page legal memo to Rod Rosenstein, excoriating Mueller's bogus obstruction theory and--ipso facto--exposing the true threat of the Russia Hoax to our Constitutional order? It seems plausible, even likely, that Grassley and Graham (and probably McConnell) wanted a say in Trump's choice of a replacement, and Barr would have been a reassuring choice.
Be that as it may, the pushback of NeverTrump senators was overcome. Trump was on course to get a new Attorney General--but that might be strongly affected by the results of the midterm elections, following the Kavanaugh confirmation. Trump hit the road campaigning for the Senate and the rest is history.
The important point is that with Barr confirmed as AG, Trump had a collaborator. Barr quickly dispelled any lingering questions by his deft but forceful handling of both Congressional testimony but also of the whole Mueller inquisition. He forced the result and turned Mueller's machinations to Trump's advantage. The result, no doubt in preparation since the end of Team Mueller, is the President's declass order. Let's have Babbin take up the story (Trump Let the Dogs Out: Those responsible for the coup attempt against the president can run but they can no longer hide.):
The Democrats, stumbling down the road to impeachment, were stunned by President Trump’s executive order on Thursday.
The order is in two parts. First, it directs the intelligence agencies to cooperate with Attorney General William Barr’s investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia counterintelligence investigation that was the vehicle used to spy on candidate Trump’s campaign and President Trump’s administration when it was new.
The second part of the order delegates to Barr the president’s authority to declassify — or reduce the level of classification of — anything that the intelligence agencies will give him.
As I wrote last year (here and here), Nunes demonstrated that what the FBI did in the Trump investigation was worse than Watergate. Nunes also demonstrated conclusively that nothing other than a presidential order to declassify the documents and testimony the FBI was concealing could overcome the FBI’s stonewalling.
The resignation of Attorney General Sessions who had turned over supervision of the “Russia collusion” investigation to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, and the confirmation of AG William Barr to his job, solved that problem. Rosenstein, who had discussed wearing a recording device for his conversations with President Trump and possibly removing him using the 25th Amendment, unsurprisingly never insisted that the FBI give Nunes what he needed. Barr’s accession to the AG’s post made him boss of the FBI and able to obtain anything it has. The FBI can’t stonewall Barr.
But the intelligence community can, or at least could, until Trump’s Thursday order.
Predictably, the people who are at greatest risk of exposure and danger of indictment erupted at Trump’s order. ...
All of this had to wait for the political groundwork to be laid. Trump's own constant criticism of his own Attorney General--a disastrous pick that nearly torpedoed his administration--was a necessary if, for many, unpalatable part of the process. But it was typical of Trump, who is willing to recognize his own mistakes and move to rectify them. He finally goaded the GOP Senate to action, undoubtedly aided by Sessions' demonstrable fecklessness that was endangering the entire party. The long drive to take control of DoJ was finally won by conservatives and a new campaign--to defang the Deep State--is now underway.
In the rest of his article, Babbin expresses concern that "Trump's appointees CIA Director Gina Haspel, DNI Dan Coats, and NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone) should cooperate with Barr. But they — and the Obama sympathizers who work for them — will be no more cooperative with Barr than the FBI was with Nunes." However, I prefer to believe that the breadth of the delegation presidential authority to Barr will lead Barr to prevail--and that more speedily than naysayers believe. I believe Barr has the knowledge, skill, and drive to compel cooperation and will not diddle around asking "pretty please."
UPDATE: Below is the audio of an interview with Joe DiGenova that's a total must listen to account of what's going on. Joe states flatly: This is full scale war. The FBI and CIA have attempted to stonewall Barr and Barr went to Trump to tell him: If you want me to do the job, you've got to give me the authority. And Trump did.
The FBI and CIA are in full revolt, they're at war with the AG, but here's the problem for the FBI and CIA: They can leak, but Barr has subpoena power. Chris Wray has become an enemy of the people. The IC has met its match in Barr. He's smart, he's a veteran of both the CIA and DoJ, he's a litagator (that is SO important).
Joe also stresses the importance of the fact that the domestic spying goes back to 2012. This is what Dems most fear will come out. Problem for the IC: The FISC has already ruled that they lied about this.
"This is as big as it gets in a democracy."
Re Loretta Lynch: "The dumbest Attorney General in the history of the United States."
Barr needs to put John Carlin in front of a Grand Jury.