The move marked an escalation in Trump's efforts to "investigate the investigators", as he continues to try to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe amid mounting Democratic calls to bring impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Trump also released a memo authorizing the attorney general to "declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence" in regard to actions taken leading up to and during the Russian Federation probe.
Last month, Barr said at a Senate hearing that "spying" on Trump's campaign was carried out by USA intelligence agencies, though he later referred to his concerns as focused on "unauthorized surveillance".
"We're exposing everything", Trump said. In an interview with Fox News earlier this month, Barr explained that "people have to find out what the government was doing during that period..."
The president said his decision will ensure that investigators looking into the origins of the probe have everything they need, "so they'll be able to see how and why this whole hoax started". Add Russia Investigation as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Russia Investigation news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
New York Times correspondent Michael Schmidt said this investigation is "sort of unusual and different" and asked, "Is it to keep Trump at bay or does Barr really think there's a there there?"
"The coverup has entered a new and unsafe phase", Schiff said in a statement released late Thursday. "The more serious and clearly criminal of these obstruction events consists in Trump instructing those who worked for him in the White House to put documents containing material falsehoods into government files that were about to be subpoenaed, and instructing the same folks to lie to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents", Napolitano writes.
The memorandum states that Barr can "declassify, downgrade, or direct the declassification or downgrading of information or intelligence that relates to the Attorney General's review".
"The FBI's July 2016 counterintelligence investigation was opened by former senior agent Peter Strzok".
"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".
Typically, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence coordinates declassification work by contacting various agencies where classified material originated to get their input on what should be released or not disclosed based on legal exemptions.