Attorney General William Barr tore into the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign on Tuesday, calling it “intolerable,” inexplicable,” and a “travesty” with “many abuses.”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Monday found in his highly anticipated IG report (which now has an audio version) that the FBI had adequate reason to initiate the Russia investigation, while noting that the threshold was low to launch such an investigation. He also found that there was no documented evidence to support the allegation that FBI and DOJ officials acted out of political bias.
The bulk of Horowitz’s report however is a scathing rebuke of the FBI’s gross misconduct throughout its fatally flawed Crossfire Hurricane investigation.
The AG disputed the Horowitz’s assessment that FBI’s investigation was properly predicated with no evidence of bias but noted that although he disagrees with Durham on those points, “there are still people in this town where you can be adults and be professionals and have disagreements without tearing each other’s hearts out.”
Speaking at the WSJ event on Tuesday, Barr said it was too soon to determine that the FBI was not motivated by political bias in the investigation, and that John Durham, the federal prosecutor he appointed to examine the origins of the probe, was better equipped to answer that question than the Justice Department’s internal watchdog.
“That’s why we have Durham,” he pointed out. “He will have a broader appreciation of all the facts and a determination can be made.”
Barr added that although Horowitz didn’t find evidence of political bias, “it quickly became apparent that it was a travesty, and there were many abuses.”
He said that “from day one, it generated exculpatory information and nothing that substantiated any kind of collusion.”
“They withheld from the court all the exculpatory information and information about the lack of reliability of Steele,” he complained, but used the unverified dossier—which they knew was “garbage”—to get the FISA warrant.
“It’s hard to look at this stuff and not think it was a gross abuse,” he said.
In a particularly egregious move, he said the FBI told the FISA court that they found dossier author Christopher Steele’s sub-source to be credible and cooperative in an effort to bolster their case after they interviewed him and found out that had no useful information.
The AG argued that the basis for the investigation was too “flimsy” to be adequately predicated. “This was a 28-year-old volunteer in a campaign in a bar off-hand [saying] what was described as a suggestion of a suggestion.”
He also wasn’t convinced that the subject matter being discussed was all that concerning, given the circumstances at the time.
“It was some vague allusion that the Russians had something that they could dump,” he said. “At that time—in May of 2016—there was rampant speculation going on in the media and the blogosphere and political circles that Hillary Clinton’s email server in 2014 may have been hacked and therefore the Russians had those emails. So drawing a conclusion that this kind of vague comment … showed pre-knowledge of the Clinton email hack and dump I think was a big stretch.”
The portion of the interview that deals with the IG report begins about 27 minutes into the video below:
U.S. Attorney General William Barr calls the FBI's investigation of President Trump's campaign a "travesty" in comments made at the #WSJCEOCouncil event in Washington, D.C.
Watch live: https://t.co/XNSYTdJfaO
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 10, 2019
“There were some things that were done in the investigation that were not included in Horowitz’s report and he’s looking at those things,” Barr told NBC News’ Pete Williams.
The AG added that he told Durham a few weeks ago to start focusing on the post-election period because that’s when documents were falsified in order to get the FISA renewals and exculpatory information was withheld from the court.
“I did that because of some of the stuff that Horowitz has uncovered which to me is inexplicable,” he explained. “Their case collapsed after the election and they never told the court and they kept getting renewals on these applications.”
He added: “The question really is, what was the agenda after the election?” Barr asked. “They kept on pressing ahead after their case collapsed. This is the president of the United States!”
Barr also explained his role in assisting Durham in his investigation overseas after his Democrat/media critics assailed him for improperly inserting himself into the probe.
“The person running the investigation is John Durham,” Barr insisted. “But this is a very unusual circumstance where we are going to foreign governments and asking them to assist and cooperate—including some of their sensitive materials and personnel,” he explained. “And the U.S. Attorney doesn’t show up on the doorstep in some of these countries like London and say, ‘hey, I want to talk to your intelligence people,’ and so forth.”
He told Williams that his purpose was to introduce Durham to the appropriate people and set up channels to help his investigation in the countries that were involved.
Barr also defended Durham’s statement on the IG report after it came out Monday.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, & while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the IG that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham stated.
The attorney general said that it was necessary for Durham to come out with a statement to avoid public confusion.
“I think it was sort of being reported by the press that the issue of predication was sort of done and over even though it was a very limited look at that issue by the IG given the narrowness of the evidence available to him.
“I think it was important for people to understand that Durham’s work was not being preempted and that Durham was doing something different … and there are areas of disagreement. I think it was perfectly appropriate so the public could understand the relationship between the two exercises.”
“I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press,” Barr said. “I think there were gross abuses…and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI.