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Trump orders new powers for Attorney General’s surveillance probe

Washington:      US President Donald Trump has ordered US intelligence agencies to co-operate with an investigation into whether he was spied on during the 2016 election.
The probe, headed by Attorney General William Barr, is examining the origins of the Russia investigation.
It has long been requested by Trump, who often labels the inquiry into Russian interference a “witch hunt”.
On Thursday he announced a directive that gave Barr sweeping new powers, including to declassify documents.
The memorandum directs the head of intelligence agencies to “promptly provide” information to Barr upon his request.
The attorney general has previously told Congress that he believes Trump’s presidential campaign was “spied” on and assigned a federal prosecutor to the case.
“Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.
Barr is already subject to intense scrutiny and criticism by Democrats – who have accused him of acting on the president’s behalf and not in the national interest.
They allege he mischaracterised the findings of the Mueller report, and he has also been held in contempt of Congress for failing to provide them an unredacted version.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report did not conclude that there had been a criminal conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 US presidential election. However, it did detail 10 instances where Mr Trump possibly attempted to impede the investigation.
Top Democrat and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused Mr Barr of committing a crime by lying to Congress during one hearing regarding the report – an allegation he dismissed as “laughable”.

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