Attorney General William Barr has revealed that John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Russian collusion hoax has uncovered evidence “far more troubling” than what could be explained away as “mistakes or sloppiness.”
AG Barr told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Thursday that Connecticut’s top federal prosecutor is unearthing troubling evidence and promised prosecutions will happen if he finds that laws were broken.
“My own view is that the evidence shows that we’re not dealing with just mistakes or sloppiness,” Barr said.
“There is something far more troubling here, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,” he continued.
“And if people broke the law, and we can establish that with the evidence, they will be prosecuted.”
Washingtonexaminer.com reports: Durham was appointed last year by Barr to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and to review possible misconduct by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials. The review upgraded into a criminal investigation in the fall, giving the prosecutor the power to impanel a grand jury and hand down indictments. The attorney general told Durham to focus just as much on the time period after the 2016 election as before it.
“He is looking to bring to justice people who are engaged in abuses if he can show that they were criminal violations, and that’s what the focus is on,” Barr said. “And as you know, being a lawyer you yourself, building these cases — especially the kinds of sprawling case we have between us that went on for two or three years here — it takes some time — it takes some time to build the case. So, he’s diligently pursuing it.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, released in April, found the Russians had interfered in the 2016 election in a “sweeping and systematic fashion,” but “did not establish” any criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Barr suggested there would also likely end up being a Durham report.
“Well, I think a report maybe — and probably — will be a byproduct of his activity,” Barr told Ingraham.
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 salacious and 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. Horowitz also criticized the bureau for not sharing exculpatory information from confidential human sources with the FISA court.
“I think it’s possible to put in a regime that would make it very hard either to willfully circumvent FISA or to do so sloppily without due regard for the rights of the American person involved and also to make it very clear that any misconduct will be discovered and discovered fairly promptly,” Barr told Ingraham. “So, I do think we can put in safeguards that will enable us to go forward with this important tool.”
The attorney general added: “The people who abused FISA have a lot to answer for.”
FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who altered a document in the Page FISA filings, is the only person publicly known to be under criminal investigation by Durham. The Justice Department told the FISA court it believed the final two of four Page FISA warrants were “not valid,” and the FBI has moved to “sequester” all of the information gleaned from the Page surveillance.
FBI Director Christopher Wray agreed there had been at least some illegal surveillance and said he was working to “claw back” that FISA information.
In the wake of Horowitz’s report, Barr said that many questions remain unanswered, pointing to former FBI Director James Comey’s refusal to allow his security clearance to be reinstated, which let him avoid questions about classified information that Horowitz wanted to raise. Barr and Durham both quibbled with Horowitz’s conclusion that the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was properly predicated in the summer of 2016.
Durham drove to Washington, D.C., in March to ensure the investigation stayed on track during the coronavirus outbreak. He is reportedly looking into whether Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan took politicized actions during the 2017 intelligence community assessment on Russian interference.
He is also reportedly scrutinizing Brennan in relation to Steele’s dossier and whether it was used in the 2017 assessment, why Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe insisted upon it being part of the assessment, and how allegations from the dossier ended up in the assessment’s appendix.
“I think the president has every right to be frustrated, because I think what happened to him was one of the greatest travesties in American history,” Barr argued to Ingraham. “Without any basis, they started this investigation of his campaign, and even more concerning, actually is what happened after the campaign, a whole pattern of events while he was president to sabotage his presidency — or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency.”
Barr has become a polarizing figure while overseeing this investigation, for which Trump gave him full declassification authority, and Democrats have accused him of going to extreme lengths to protect Trump. Barr and Durham have reached out to foreign governments, including Australia, Italy, and the United Kingdom, taking multiple overseas trips to review evidence.
During the Thursday interview, Barr also weighed in on Trump’s decision to fire Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, whose handling of last year’s Ukraine whistleblower complaint drew Trump’s ire but whose removal raised eyebrows among Republicans such as Sen. Chuck Grassley.
“From the vantage point of the Department of Justice, he had interpreted his statute, which is a fairly narrow statute, that gave him jurisdiction over wrongdoing by Intelligence people, and tried to turn it into a commission to explore anything in the government and immediately reported to Congress without letting the Executive Branch look at it and determine whether there was any problem,” Barr said, adding, “So, I think the president was correct in firing him.”
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