Attorney General William Barr blasted the “irresponsible press” during an interview by NBC News on Tuesday. A feisty Barr too to task both the FBI and the mainstream media for their roles in pushing lies on the American people concerning so-called collusion with Russia.
Barr said in an interview with NBC News he disagreed with a Justice Department inspector general’s report, released Monday, that said the FBI had a legitimate rationale to open an investigation into Trump campaign associates in July 2016.
Barr said he believes the FBI may have acted in “bad faith” in opening the investigation.
“I think there were gross abuses … and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI,” Barr told NBC News. “I think that leaves open the possibility that there was bad faith.”
The inspector general’s office said the FBI had a proper predicate for opening the investigation; however, the report also laid out extensive evidence of FBI agents omitting and withholding information regarding the Steele dossier, which the bureau used in applications to conduct surveillance against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The report said FBI agents working the case failed to disclose exculpatory information regarding Page and George Papadopoulos, another former Trump aide. FBI agents also withheld information that called the credibility of dossier author Christopher Steele into question.
Barr doubled down in the interview on remarks he made earlier this year that he believes the U.S. government spied on Trump campaign associates.
“It was clearly spied upon,” Barr said of the FBI’s actions towards the Trump campaign. “That’s what electronic surveillance is … going through people’s emails, wiring people up.”
Barr criticized the press on two fronts. He faulted the industry for largely ignoring the parts of the inspector general’s report that undercut the collusion conspiracy theories. He also accused news outlets of overhyping allegations of Trump-Russia collusion.
He lamented that the inspector general’s report has not been “accurately reported by the press over the last day.”
Barr also added: “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.”
The special counsel’s report, which was released on April 18, said there was no evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia or that any Trump associates acted as agents of Russia. The FBI opened its investigation on July 31, 2016 to find out whether anyone on the campaign was working with Russia to hack and release Democrats’ emails.
As part of the probe, the FBI relied heavily on the unverified Steele dossier to assert that there was probable cause to suspect that Page was conspiring with Russia to release emails.
The Daily Wire added more of the transcript:
NBC News Pete Williams asked Barr, “Based on what you know so far, do you still stand by your statement that the campaign was spied upon?”
“Oh, it was clearly spied upon. I mean, that’s what electronic surveillance is. I think wiring people up to go in and talk to people and make recordings of their conversations is spying,” Barr responded. “I think going through people’s emails which they did as a result of the FISA warrant. They went through everything, you know, from Page’s life.”
Earlier in the interview, Barr said that this was “the first time in history that this has been done to a presidential campaign, the use of these counterintelligence techniques against a presidential campaign.”
Williams pressed, “Well, he wasn’t in the campaign at that point where they began the surveillance—”
“No, but — yes, his emails go back. The main reason they were going for the FISA warrant initially was to go back historically and seize all of his emails and texts, all of that stuff, from back — months and even years,” Barr responded. “So, they were coverage the period that he was in the campaign and that’s exactly the reason they went for the FISA, to get that stuff.”
Barr continued by highlighting what U.S. Attorney John Durham is looking at in his criminal investigation of the origins of the Russia investigation, noting that FBI officials falsified evidence to surveil the Trump campaign and that they continued to investigate Trump after their case collapsed and the investigation was over.
“Well, Durham is looking at the whole water front. He’s looking at the issue of how it got started. He’s looking at whether or not the narrative of Trump being involved in the Russian interference actually preceded July and was in fact the precipitating trigger for the investigation? He’s also looking at the conduct of the investigation,” Barr said. “There are some things that were done in the investigation that are not included in Horowitz’s report and he’s looking at those things. But also a few weeks ago, I told him he should spend just as much attention on the post-election period and I did that because of some of the stuff that Horowitz has uncovered which to me is inexplicable.”
“Well, what I said is, their case collapsed after the election and they never told the court and they kept getting renewals on the applications. There were documents falsified in order to get these renewals,” Barr continued. “There was all kinds of withholding of information from the court and the question really is, what was the agenda after the election that kept them pressing ahead, after their case collapsed? He’s the President of the United States.”
AG Bill Bar maintains the Trump campaign was very “clearly spied upon…” as a result of the sham FISA warrant, which Barr says was used to get emails, texts from the campaign. pic.twitter.com/POzKxQCmlv
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) December 10, 2019
Barr also addressed the following questions from Williams during the segment highlighted in the video above:
Williams: You, of course, went to three countries with him. Why did you have to do that? And some people have said, ‘well, this is clearly Bill Barr’s in charge of the investigation?’
Barr: Well, the presentation of that in the media has been silly. The person running the investigation is John Durham. But this is a very unusual circumstance where we’re going to foreign government and asking him to assist and cooperate, including some of their sensitive materials and personnel. And a U.S. Attorney doesn’t show up on the door step in some of these countries like London and say, ‘hey, I want to talk to your intelligence people and so forth’. All the regularities were followed. My purpose was to introduce to the appropriate people and set up a channel where he could work with these countries. I went through the ambassadors of each country and the governments initially wanted to talk to me, to find out, what is this about, what are the ground rules, is this going to be a criminal case, are you going to do a public report, they wanted to understand the ground rules before they met with Durham and I met with them and set up appropriate channels. This was perfectly appropriate.
Williams: Speaking of whether or not something was appropriate or not, was it appropriate for John Durham to issue his statement yesterday? Given that he’s a U.S. Attorney with the grand jury and his investigation isn’t done yet?
Barr: Yeah, I think it was definitely appropriate because I think it was necessary 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 I.G., given the narrowness of — you know, of the evidence available to him. And 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 he explains what he’s doing different and that there are areas of disagreement. I think it was perfectly appropriate so the public understood the relationship between the two exercises.