William Barr – Caricature by DonkeyHotey, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original
Fox News’s Bill Hemmer sat down with Attorney General William Barr on Thursday in El Salvador to discuss the origins of the Trump/Russia collusion investigation.
Barr began by telling Hemmer:
I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together, in a sense I have more questions today than when I first started.
People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale.
I’m not saying that happened but it’s something we have to look at.
Barr said that gathering information has been challenging because “this was handled at the very senior level of these departments. It was not handled in the ordinary way that investigations or counterintelligence activities are conducted. Senior officials took “ad hoc” approach during origins of Russia probe.”
This is uncharted territory for government officials. How often do unelected bureaucrats try to remove a U.S. President from office?
Barr indicated he doesn’t have much information to work with yet, telling Hemmer he thinks “there’s a misconception out there that we know a lot about what happened…Bob Mueller didn’t look at the government’s activity. He was looking at whether or not the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russians. He was not going back and looking at the counterintelligence program.”
He would not allow Hemmer to pin him down on details he was unsure of. Hemmer asked when he believed the FBI began spying on the Trump campaign, and Barr replied, “I’m not going to speculate about when it started. I’m going to find out when it started.”
Next, Hemmer asked if he is aware of when Robert Mueller knew there was no collusion. Barr said, “No, I couldn’t say that.” Even if he does know, it was smart of him not to go there.
They spoke about Democrats’ calls for his resignation and accusations that he has lied or misled Congress. Barr called Nancy Pelosi’s accusation that he lied to Congress “laughable.”
He said, “It’s a laughable charge and I think it’s largely being made to try to discredit me partly because they may be concerned about the outcome of a review of what happened during the election.” He added that “they may be trying to undermine my credibility, but obviously you can look at the face of my testimony and see on its face that there was nothing inaccurate about it.”
When asked about the House Judiciary Committee’s vote to hold him in contempt of Congress, Barr was dismissive and said, “That’s part of the usual … political circus that’s being played out. It doesn’t surprise me.” He is imperturbable.
Barr said they will be looking closely at the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day. He said “some very strange developments took place in that time.” He referred specifically to the January 6, 2017 meeting when intelligence officials briefed President-elect Trump on the dossier and “the leaking of information subsequent to that meeting.”
As always, the new attorney general was direct and he is determined to get to the bottom of this.
Following the interview, Hemmer said, “He clearly believes he is the target of a Democrat-led House and he expected that when he took the job.”
Unfortunately, that’s not paranoia.
Earlier this week, Barr showed that despite the smear campaign again him, he still has a sense of humor.
The Hill reported that, spying Nancy Pelosi on the sidelines of a Capitol Hill event, Barr approached her, shook her hand and said, “Madame Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?”
A bystander told The Hill that Pelosi, “not missing a beat, smiled and indicated to the attorney general that the House sergeant-at-arms was present at the ceremony should an arrest be necessary. The attorney general chuckled and walked away.”
I applaud the Attorney General for his pluck. President Trump couldn’t have made a better choice.