“People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason shouldn’t we be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale?”
Attorney William Barr gave Fox News an interview while in El Salvador about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into the origins of the probe into possible collusion between Russia and now-President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.
Barr defended his decision to investigate the origins because he found the answers people gave him inadequate.
The FBI formed the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, in July 26 after Australian diplomat Alexander Downer told the agency “that Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos told him Russia had damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2016 election.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report found no collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign. He reported that Russia attempted to interfere with our election through “social media and disinformation campaigns.”
From Fox News:
“The first step is to find out exactly what happened, and we’re trying to get our arms around that, getting all the relevant information from the various agencies and starting to talk to some of the people that have information,” Barr told Hemmer.
While the decision to look back at the origins of the investigation has prompted harsh criticism from Democrats who previously have accused him of acting as the president’s lawyer, Barr argued there’s much yet to learn.
“I think there’s a misconception out there that we know a lot about what happened,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is Bob Mueller did not look at the government’s activities. He was looking at whether or not the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russians. But he was not going back and looking at the counterintelligence program. And we have a number of investigations underway that touch upon it — the main one being the office of inspector general that’s looking at the FISA warrants.”
Barr pointed out that the time period between Election Day and Trump’s inauguration (November 2016 to January 2017) is key to the probe due to “some very strange developments.” This time period includes “the early January 2017 briefing intelligence officials gave to the president at Trump Tower and ‘the leaking of information subsequent to that meeting.'”
In that meeting, officials “briefed on Russian meddling and was informed by then-FBI boss James Comey about the allegations against him in a salacious and unverified dossier.” Someone then leaked details about the briefing to the media.
Barr assigned Connecticut US Attorney John Durham “to conduct the inquiry into alleged misconduct and alleged improper government surveillance on the Trump campaign in 2016 as well as whether Democrats improperly colluded with foreign actors.” Durham will work on the time before Election Day in November 2016, “including the use of FBI informants, as well as alleged improper issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.”
More from Fox News:
A source also told Fox News that Barr is working “collaboratively” on the investigation with FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and that Durham is also working directly with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is currently reviewing allegations of misconduct in issuance of FISA warrants, and the role of FBI informants during the early stages of the investigation.
In his interview Friday, Barr said he stressed it is of the utmost importance “to find out what the government was doing during that period.”
“I’ve been trying to get answers to questions and I found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate. And I’ve also found that some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together,” Barr told Hemmer.
“So in a sense, I have more questions today than I did when I first started. Some of what things don’t hang together, some of the explanations of what occurred. People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason shouldn’t we be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale?”
He added: “I’m not saying that happened, but I’m saying that we have to look at that.”
The Democrats have criticized Barr over the handling of the Mueller report. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi claimed Barr lied under oath while the House Judiciary Committee voted, along party lines, Barr in contempt.
They continue to try to get their hands on the unredacted Mueller report, but as I blogged earlier this month, redactions happen for legit legal reasons. Mueller’s team obviously did not object to the redactions because a team member helped with them.
Democrats also insist that Mueller thought Barr misrepresented the report, but if people actually read the letter they would see the media’s failure “to capture his team’s nuanced thinking” frustrated Mueller. The only problem he had with the summary was “his explanation of why he did not reach a conclusion on obstruction and he wanted more put out on that issue.”
Barr spoke to Mueller about his concerns. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mueller “was very clear that he was not suggesting we had misrepresented his report.”
Barr called the accusations and charges “laughable” and thinks the Democrats have done this in an attempt to “discredit” him because “they may be concerned about the outcome of a review of what happened during the election.”DONATE
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