If there were any fears that Attorney General William Barr would not dig too deep into the origins of the FBI’s targeting of the president’s 2016 campaign team, those should have been dispelled by the AG himself during an interview on May 17 with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer.
Barr is currently in El Salvador reviewing joint U.S.-El Salvadorean efforts to combat the ruthless MS-13 gang, which has many hundreds of members across the United States. Hemmer sat down with Barr for an interview that focused largely on the latter’s probe into the origins and handling of the Russia investigation. The AG recently tapped John Durham, a federal prosecutor, to work with the DOJ investigation into whether the FBI’s counterintelligence operation was correctly predicated and conducted within the law.
It has already become clear to Barr that the FBI’s operation – codenamed Crossfire Hurricane – was, in many respects, conducted in an unusual way. The AG said he finds it “interesting” that the operation was handled “at a very senior level” by “an ad-hoc small group.” He also revealed that his probe into the genesis of this affair is not limited to the FBI. As he explained his approach, Barr mentioned the CIA and “the other agencies involved.”
In this, his first interview since being appointed to head up the Department of Justice, Barr implies that he has opened a very large can of worms and that he is facing some resistance from within the agencies under investigation – including, one might assume, his own department. “I’ve been trying to get answers to questions,” Barr told Hemmer, “and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate.” He went on to say, “some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together.”
It is a sure sign that former government officials – and probably some who are still working within the DOJ and other federal agencies – have something to hide when the attorney general himself feels that people are giving him explanations that “don’t hang together.” Barr says he has more questions now than he did when he first decided to look into the issue. Hemmer asked him why that matters.
“Well, because, I think 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 we should be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale.”
Regarding the so-called Steele dossier – the compilation of opposition research put together by former British spy Christopher Steele to aid the Hillary Clinton campaign – Barr noted that it was a “very unusual situation” to have political opposition research used in a counterintelligence operation against a political campaign.
What Are Democrats Really Concerned About?
The AG dismisses the criticism he has received from Democrats in Congress, suggesting that this is an attempt to undermine his credibility “because they may be concerned about the outcome of a review of what happened during the  election.”
The interview touched upon many of the things endlessly discussed and dissected in the media and on Capitol Hill. Addressing President Donald Trump’s oft-repeated claim that the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt,” Barr appeared to sympathize, suggesting that anyone falsely accused and then investigated for a crime they did not commit might use such a term.
On charges, by Democrats, that he is acting to protect the president, Barr pointed out that many attorneys general have been accused of acting out of loyalty to the president who appointed them – citing Eric Holder, in particular, and recalling that the former AG sometimes did indeed display loyalty to Barack Obama.
As he answered a question about the way in which certain former senior federal officials have criticized him in the media – specifically former FBI director James Comey – Barr made what could be interpreted as a quite ominous observation: “I don’t think those people are really concerned about my legacy.” The implication was fairly obvious: Those people were actually more concerned about their nefarious plots being uncovered.
As he oversees and coordinates the numerous investigations that sprang out of the Russia collusion hoax, Barr stands firm, dismissing his critics and describing the threat of a contempt of Congress charge against him as a “circus.” Though he declined to give away too many details and steered clear of speculation, the AG clearly knows that something was very wrong with the Russia affair and with the roles played by certain actors within the intelligence community. Fortunately, it appears that Barr intends to dig as deep as is necessary to expose the guilty.
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