- Attorney General William Barr said Monday that he doesn’t think the special prosecutor reviewing the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe will investigate former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden.
- Barr also criticised “increasing attempts to use the criminal justice system as a political weapon.”
- “The legal tactic has been to gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories,” Barr said. “This is not a good development.”
- The attorney general’s remarks drew backlash from national security veterans who lambasted him for criticising politically motivated investigations while acting as a legal shield for Trump.
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Attorney General William Barr said on Monday that he doesn’t think John Durham, the independent prosecutor reviewing the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe, will investigate former president Barack Obama or former vice president Joe Biden.
Barr’s comments came as President Donald Trump and his loyalists double down on accusing the Obama administration of masterminding the Russia investigation to sabotage Trump’s presidency.
During a news conference about last year’s shooting at a US military base in Florida, a reporter asked Barr about Trump’s renewed allegations against Obama, which the president has dubbed “Obamagate.”
Without specifically naming Trump, Barr criticised “increasing attempts to use the criminal justice system as a political weapon.”
“The legal tactic has been to gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories,” Barr said. “This is not a good development.”
According to The Washington Post, Barr then shot down the suggestion that the prosecutor reviewing the roots of the Russia probe, John Durham, would investigate Obama or Biden.
“As to President Obama and Vice President, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”
He did not elaborate on who Durham is zeroing in on.
Barr’s remarks drew some backlash from national security veterans who lambasted the attorney general for criticising politically motivated investigations while acting as a legal shield for Trump.
“The news isn’t that Obama and Biden won’t be investigated. The news is that unidentified ‘others’ ARE being targeted in what appears to amount to a politically-motivated DoJ probe, which seeks to impugn the previous administration and exonerate Moscow,” wrote Ned Price, the former senior director of the National Security Council.
“I don’t expect this will keep Trump from continuing to malign Biden & Obama,” Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor, tweeted. “Trump got what he wanted from Barr’s investigations & Barr was a willing participant in the politicization of the Justice Department.”
The attorney general has repeatedly raised eyebrows by saying he will not cave to pressure from the president despite repeatedly giving in to his public demands and overseeing an internal investigation targeting Trump’s perceived political foes.
- Earlier this month, the Justice Department abruptly moved to drop its case against Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The decision came after Barr appointed an outside prosecutor to review the case. In January, senior DOJ officials also intervened in the case to ask for a more lenient sentence.
- In February, Barr and senior leadership overrode the sentencing recommendation that career prosecutors handling the federal case against Trump’s associate, Roger Stone, made to a court. The decision prompted all four prosecutors who worked on the case to withdraw as counsel for the government.
- Barr announced that the DOJ was setting up an “intake process” to vet the information that Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, collects from Ukraine against Biden, one of Trump’s 2020 Democratic rivals.
- Last year, Barr inserted himself into the FBI’s Russia investigation to clear Trump of obstruction of justice, despite the fact that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s team specified that if they had confidence the president did not commit a crime, they would have said so.
- The attorney general has also publicly parroted the conspiratorial language Trump uses to refer to the career officials who oversaw the Russia probe. Last year, Barr accused the FBI of “spying” on the Trump campaign, despite the fact that the DOJ inspector general found no evidence to support the conspiracy theory, dubbed “Spygate,” that Trump originated.
- Barr also went out of his way to insist that there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, even though “collusion” is not a legal term.
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