- Attorney General William Barr has reportedly put together his own team to look into purported Justice Department and FBI misconduct related to several investigations related to the 2016 election.
- President Donald Trump and his allies have long been calling for investigators to examine what they characterise as bias and misconduct against Trump at the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ.
- They have also called for investigations into whether the FBI abused its surveillance authority when it sought a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
- Barr is now the fourth entity to be examining alleged DOJ and FBI misconduct. The others are the Office of the Inspector General, congressional Republicans, and the former US attorney John Huber.
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Attorney General William Barr has put together his own team to look into the Justice Department’s and FBI’s oversight of several investigations, including the Russia probe, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Barr’s inquiry is separate from an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) into the same matter, the report said.
There are now four entities examining potential DOJ and FBI misconduct related to investigations into President Donald Trump’s campaign, Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, or Clinton’s links to a Russian nuclear agency: Barr, the OIG, congressional Republicans, and former US attorney John Huber.
Barr told the House appropriations subcommittee during a Tuesday hearing that he expects the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, to complete his investigation by May or June.
Although Tuesday’s hearing was about the DOJ’s budget, the Russia investigation and the special counsel Robert Mueller loomed large over the proceedings.
Mueller was tasked with investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow, and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice in the investigation after the public learned of its existence.
“I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016,” Barr said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, congressional Republicans launched their own investigation into what they characterised as bias and corruption within the top ranks of the DOJ and FBI. With the White House’s backing, they are also looking into whether the FBI abused its surveillance authority when it sought a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting the former Trump campaign foreign policy aide Carter Page.
Barr said Tuesday that he’d be prepared to release a redacted version of Mueller’s final report “within a week.”
On March 24, Barr released an initial four-page review of Mueller’s findings in the Russia investigation. Barr wrote that Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to charge President Donald Trump or anyone associated with his campaign with conspiring with the Russian government during the 2016 election.
He also said that Mueller did not come to a conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice in the investigation but added that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided the president did not commit an obstruction crime. Barr’s conclusions, primarily in the obstruction inquiry, immediately sparked calls for the full report to be made public.
In a March 29 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Lindsey Graham, and the House Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Jerry Nadler, Barr said he was working with Mueller’s team to release as much of the report as possible to the public.
But last week, Barr was caught up in a firestorm when several media outlets reported that members of the special counsel’s team were frustrated and dissatisfied with Barr’s characterization of their findings in the Russia investigation. Prosecutors are also said to have prepared several summaries of their findings and were upset the attorney general did not include more material from the summaries in his initial review.
Following the revelations, the Justice Department released a statement saying every page of the report included sensitive grand-jury information that had to be redacted before the report could be released.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham has said he intends to launch his own investigation into the DOJ’s and FBI’s oversight of the Mueller probe once the final report comes out.
“Once we put the Mueller report to bed, once Barr comes to the committee and takes questions about his findings and his actions, and we get to see the Mueller report, consistent with law, then we are going to turn to finding out how this got off the rails,” Graham told Fox News last month.
The White House, the Justice Department, and Trump’s personal attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.