Donald Trump has given the US attorney general permission to share classified information about the Russia investigation with Devin Nunes, the Republican House Intelligence Committee ranking member who has called for Justice Department and FBI officials to be jailed over the probe.
The US president said he had given William Barr “a total release” of documents relating to the investigation into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election, and had also “given him authorisation to release it to whoever he wants”.
Mr Trump added: “He’s the attorney general of the United States, he’s has got a lot of very good people under him that I guess are involved and I gave them a total release. So, all of it’s been released and he has all of it.
“I’ve also given him authorisation to release it to whoever he wants, whether it’s his people or frankly perhaps people like Devin Nunes, who is a star.”
Mr Nunes, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, this week portrayed allegations that Mr Trump’s presidential campaign team colluded with Russia as a “hoax” comparable to “the Loch Ness monster”.
Earlier this month, he described officials who triggered Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as “a bunch of dirty cops”.
“Some of them better go to jail, or we're going to go down in a spiral in this country because you will not have a Republican that will trust the FBI or the Department of Justice for generations to come,” he told Fox News presenter Bill Hemmer.
Mr Mueller, giving testimony on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, rejected Mr Trump's claims to have been been exonerated by the special counsel's report.
"That is not what the report said. The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed," he told congress.
Mr Nunes has repeatedly been accused of attempting to undermine investigations into the Russia allegations.
In 2017, he was forced to temporarily recuse himself from the House Intelligence Committee’s probe while the Office of Congressional Ethics investigated his disclosure of intelligence files which he claimed showed Mr Trump’s transition team had been caught up in surveillance.
He reportedly received the files from White House officials and was criticised by both Democrats and Republicans for revealing information from classified documents.
Mr Nunes was later cleared by the ethics watchdog, but the release of the declassified memo last year showed key elements of his claims of FBI misconduct had been false or misleading.