WASHINGTON – The Justice Department’s review of investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election cleared the CIA of suspicions it was targeting President Trump and his associates, Attorney General William P. Barr in an interview published Friday.
“The CIA has stayed on track,” and he “saw no sign of inappropriate CIA activity,” Barr told Conservative Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley A. Strassel. His comments made his disclosure more explicit this month that the investigation by John H. Durham, a prosecutor Mr Barr appointed as special advocate in the case, had narrowed down to focus on the FBI.
Mr. Barr stopped before completely absolving the CIA; he confirmed that Mr Durham was reviewing the assessment in early 2017 of the agency and other parts of the intelligence community which concluded that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin favored Mr Trump over Hillary Clinton in the election from 2016.
Mr Barr has been criticized for his previous use of the term “espionage” to describe investigative activity, although he applied it more generally to the FBI’s investigation of Russia than to the scrutiny of the Russian Federation. CIA of the Kremlin’s election interference campaign in 2016. Barr reserved harsh judgment on the FBI investigation, calling parts “outrageous.”
Mr Barr, who will step down next week, sought to polish his legacy during the interview. He has been widely criticized for his interventions in cases involving Mr. Trump’s associates, his description of the Mueller Report which a judge called “distorted” and “misleading” and other efforts to move the agenda forward. politics of the president, but he insisted that he was an impartial arbiter of justice which prevented the Department of Justice from being used as a “political weapon”.
Mr Barr said he planned to remain as attorney general if Mr Trump was re-elected, but his relationship with the mercurial president had at times frayed, making his role continued as the most senior official in law enforcement of the tenuous land.
Mr Barr did not claim that electoral fraud played a role in Mr Trump’s electoral loss and brushed aside repeated criticisms by the president that he should have disclosed a federal investigation into the son of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., which allegedly violated Department of Justice guidelines.
While apparently clearing the CIA of any wrongdoing, Mr Barr was deeply skeptical of the FBI’s reasoning for opening a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 over whether any Trump campaign associates were secretly conspiring with Russia to do so. tilt the election in favor of Mr. Trump.
The investigation should never have been opened, Mr Barr said. “The idea that this was done with the collusion of the Trump campaign – there has never been any evidence. It was entirely made up.
The investigation, known as the Crossfire Hurricane, fueled similar unsubstantiated accusations that a so-called deep state of government officials were working together to hamper Mr. Trump’s campaign and the administration.
But an independent review by the Justice Ministry’s inspector general determined that officials had sufficient reason to initiate the investigation and found no evidence that the officers acted with political bias. But agents also made serious mistakes in parts of the investigation, including some involving wiretapping documents from a former Trump campaign adviser, which were amplified by the right-wing media and used as proof that the FBI was on a witch hunt.
Mr Barr told the Journal that the FBI’s use “of confidential human sources and wiretaps to investigate campaign-related people was scandalous.”
The Inspector General concluded that the use of informants and undercover agents was in line with Department of Justice and FBI policies, but suggested these steps were lacking oversight.
Mr Barr’s appointment of Mr Durham as special advocate gives Mr Durham the kind of authority given to Robert S. Mueller III, the former special advocate who ultimately oversaw the Russia investigation. This should ensure that any report Mr. Durham wrote is made public, Barr said.
Mr Barr said Mr Durham was focusing on a “small group at the FBI” – an apparent reference to former senior officials who were instrumental in clearing Crossfire Hurricane.
Mr Barr said Mr Durham was also examining “the activities of certain private actors,” a possible reference to Christopher Steele, a former British spy who helped put together a dossier of anti-Trump material that was passed to the FBI and used as part of former Trump adviser Carter Page’s wiretapping app.
Mr Durham has spent a great deal of time reviewing the case, including the actions of FBI officials who later understood he had significant issues but failed to forward this to the secret court which highly approves the wiretapping. confidential, persons familiar with Mr. Durham’s investigation. said.
As part of his investigation, Mr. Durham sued a former FBI attorney who pleaded guilty to altering an email an agent relied on to renew one of the page’s wiretap requests. The Inspector General found the document and returned it to prosecutors.
During the interview, Mr Barr also criticized the appointment of Mr Mueller, the former director of the FBI with whom Mr Barr worked closely in the early 1990s, when he first directed both the Department of Justice.
Mr Barr said Mr Mueller should have looked at the information the FBI gave him more critically. “The Mueller team seems to have been prepared to blindly accept whatever is given to them by the system,” he said.
The Attorney General has ridiculed Mr. Mueller’s lawsuits against Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who has twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with then Russian Ambassador in late 2016 and admitted to illegally lobbying for Turkey.
After a federal judge dismissed the numerous allegations of wrongdoing by the FBI prosecution and abuse of Mr. Flynn in late 2019, Mr. Barr then appointed a U.S. attorney to review the case.
Prosecutors then sought to drop the criminal case against Mr. Flynn, but before a judge could rule on the matter, Mr. Trump pardoned Mr. Flynn, ensuring that the Justice Department under administration Biden couldn’t prosecute him for violating lobbying laws.
Mr Barr said the case against Mr Flynn was “entirely bogus”.
The judge in the Flynn case, US District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, disagreed with Mr. Barr’s general conclusion. In an opinion this month, Justice Sullivan said the Justice Department’s arguments for dropping the case were questionable and he likely would have dismissed them.
The judge also rejected evidence the department provided to the court in an attempt to show that the FBI attempted to trap Mr. Flynn.