The press is disturbed about Donald Trump’s latest attempt to smash norms and subvert our democracy. The president has now supposedly hastened our transformation into a banana republic by, of all things, calling for broader declassification and greater transparency. This line of argument is perverse.
A recent series of articles in the New York Times tries to paint a worrisome picture of White House efforts to grant Attorney General Bill Barr the authority to review the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and declassify pertinent documents. In one article, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt claim that the president has now taken “extraordinary steps” to give Barr “sweeping new authorities” to conduct his review. That article features quotes from a former CIA official who describes this declassification as dangerous because “the power to declassify is also the power to selectively declassify, and selective declassification is one of the ways the Trump White House can spin a narrative about the origins of the Russia investigation to their point of view.”