Attorney General William Barr belittled the body of evidence top Justice Department and FBI officials relied on to obtain federal warrants to surveil a Trump campaign adviser in 2016.
“And here, I felt this was very flimsy,” Barr said Tuesday on MSNBC. “Basically, I think the department has a rule of reason, which is at the end of the day, is what you’re relying on sufficiently powerful to justify the techniques you’re using? And the question there is, how strong is the evidence? How sensitive is the activity you’re looking at? And what are the alternatives?”
Barr’s comments come a day after Inspector General Michael Horowitz found more than 12 examples of information top law enforcement officials failed to share or misrepresented with the court when seeking a warrant to investigate whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. He also concluded there was no political bias against Trump that motivated the effort.
FBI investigators relied heavily on a now widely-discredited and salacious dossier funded by Democrats, fueling fears of a “deep state” coup attempt against Trump.
“When you step back here and say, what was this all based on? It’s not sufficient,” Barr said. “Remember, there was and never has been any evidence of collusion. And yet this campaign and the president’s administration has been dominated by this investigation into what turns out to be completely baseless.”
The investigation into the Trump campaign resulted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which found the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russian government during the election but laid out ten possible cases of obstruction of justice by the president without making a determination on that front. The report stopped short of exonerating Trump, but Barr did so in a summary of the report published before it was released.
Horowitz’s report is something of a preamble to federal prosecutor John Durham’s criminal investigation into the same events that took place in the lead-up to Mueller’s report.
When the report was released Monday, Barr said the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign was opened on “the thinnest of suspicions.”
“As far as I’m aware, this is the first time in history that this has been done to a presidential campaign,” Barr, who appointed Durham, said. “We don’t automatically assume that the campaigns are nefarious. And traitors and acting with foreign powers. There has to be some basis before we use these very potent powers in our core First Amendment activity.”
Author: Dominick Mastrangelo
Source: Washington Examiner: ‘Very flimsy:’ Barr slaps down Steele dossier FBI used to get FISA warrants