AG Barr talks about ANTIFA, Obamagate and Social Media Censorship

Barr: Durham team 'working very aggressively' despite coronavirus disruption

by Jerry Dunleavy, Justice Department Reporter | June 09, 2020 08:58 PM

Attorney General William Barr said U.S. Attorney John Durham’s team has been working “very aggressively” despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

Barr, who was given complete declassification authority by President Trump last year and who hand-picked the Connecticut federal prosecutor to examine the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the conduct of law enforcement and intelligence officials while investigating possible Trump-Russian collusion, also told Fox News anchor Bret Baier that Durham is focused more on possible criminality than writing up a public report. 

“I can't address expectations. I can say that even with the disruption of COVID and the fact that our court system is essentially been shut down for a few months, the Durham team has been working very aggressively to move forward,” Barr said in a segment that aired Tuesday evening. “And as I've also said, this isn't being driven by producing a report. We are trying to get to a point where we can hold accountable anyone who crossed the line and committed a criminal violation. So that's, I think, would be the initial stage of a resolution of Durham's investigation. But I also think that there will be public disclosure and some form of report at the appropriate time.”

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s lengthy December report criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against Trump campaign associate Carter Page and for the bureau's reliance on British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s unverified dossier. Steele put his research together at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, funded by Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm. Declassified footnotes showed the FBI was aware that Steele’s dossier may have been compromised by Russian disinformation.

Baier asked Barr whether he believed crimes had been committed. The attorney general stressed he could not say, though he laid out the broad scope of Durham’s inquiry. 

“I think we're concerned about the mode of force behind the very aggressive investigation that was launched into the Trump campaign without, you know, with a very thin, slender reed as a basis for it,” Barr said. “It seemed that the bureau was sort of spring-loaded at the end of July to drive in there and investigate a campaign. And there really wasn't much there to do that on. And that became more and more evident as they went by, but they seem to have ignored all the exculpatory evidence that was building up and continued pell-mell to push it forward.”
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The attorney general said that “the other area of concern” was the post-2016 election decision by the Justice Department and FBI to go “right back at it” and continue pursuing Trump-Russia collusion even as he said investigators had concluded that “there's nothing here” on retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and as Steele’s dossier “was falling apart.”
Jeffrey Jensen, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Missouri selected by Barr in February to review the case against Flynn and whose efforts unearthed a trove of concealed documents, has reportedly been asked to continue helping with Durham’s inquiry following the Justice Department’s move to drop the criminal charges against the former Trump national security adviser.
“It’s very hard to understand why they continued to push and even make public testimony that they had an investigation going when it was becoming painfully obvious or should have been obvious to anyone that there was nothing there,” Barr said.
When Baier asked Barr about critics characterizing him as “the president’s attorney” or as overly political, Barr brushed it off and emphasized that he had “publicly made clear” that Durham’s investigation hasn’t involved looking into former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential front-runner. "The people that we're looking at are not at that level," Barr said, conceding only that “some of them” were names the public would know. 

Barr also defended the legitimacy of Durham’s inquiry.
“For the first time in American history, police organizations and the national security organizations were used to spy on a campaign, and there was no basis for it. The media largely drove that, and all kinds of sensational claims were being made about the president that could have affected the election,” Barr said. “And then later on in his administration, there were actions taken that really appear to be efforts to sabotage his campaign. And that has to be looked at. And if people want to say that I'm political because I am looking at those potential abuses of power, so be it. But that's the job of the attorney general.”
The attorney general added, “I’m very troubled by what has been called to my attention so far."
Baier asked about the investigation into unmasking, and Barr stressed that “unmasking is not by itself illegal, but the patterns of unmasking can tell us something about people's motivations at any given point of time.” He said the Justice Department was “trying to take a look at the whole waterfront on unmasking — what was done, especially in 2016.” He said understanding unmasking patterns “would be very relevant as to what people were thinking at that time and what their motivations were.”
Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Bash of Texas to conduct an investigation into “unmasking” requests during the waning days of the Obama administration with a specific focus on the time period just before and right after Trump’s win in November 2016.
The attorney general also confirmed former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith was no longer with the bureau, though Barr did not say his name.
The FISA court ordered a review of all FISA filings handled by Clinesmith, who altered a key document when seeking a FISA renewal against Page to make it seem like he was “not a source” for the CIA.
Barr noted Tuesday that he couldn’t discuss any pending criminal charges but stressed that “people should not draw from the fact that no action has been taken that taken yet, that that means that people are going to get away with wrongdoing.”



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