Attorney General William Barr told Fox News anchor Bret Baier in an interview that aired on Tuesday night that he has been “very troubled” by what U.S. Attorney John Durham has uncovered in his criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation.
Barr was tight-lipped about what has been uncovered so far in the criminal investigation and said that the investigation has been “working very aggressively to move forward” despite the coronavirus pandemic, which shut down a lot of the court system.
“I think before the election, I think we’re concerned about the motive force behind the very aggressive investigation that was launched into the Trump campaign without, you know, with a very thin, slender reed as a basis for it,” Barr said. “It seemed that the bureau was sort of spring loaded at the end of July to drive in there and investigate a campaign.”
“But they seem to have ignored all the exculpatory evidence that was building up and continued Pell-mell to push it forward,” Barr continued. “The other area of concern is that after the election, even though they were closing down some of that, as we’ve seen in the Flynn case, and say there’s nothing here, for some reason, they went right back at it, even at a time where the evidentiary support or claim support like the dossier was falling apart. And it’s very hard to understand why they continued to push and even make public testimony that they had an investigation going when it was becoming painfully obvious or should have been obvious to anyone that there was nothing there.”
“For the first time in American history, the police organizations and the national security organizations were used to spy on a campaign and there was no basis for it,” Barr added. “The media largely drove all kinds of sensational claims were being made about the president. That could have affected the election. And then and then later on in his administration, there were actions taken that really appear to be efforts to sabotage his campaign. And that has to be looked at.”
Barr later said that based on what has been called to his attention, he has been “very troubled by” what he has seen.
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ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: We have extreme right groups trying to look like extreme left groups. We have extreme left groups masquerading as extreme right groups. We have players on both sides trying to spin up violence. So it’s a complicated situation.
FOX NEWS ANCHOR BRET BAIER: But you expect that there’ll be more arrests at the organizing part of it?
BARR: Yes, sir. You know, I can’t put a time limit on these investigations, but I think, you know, we are very much focused on getting on top of these groups.
BAIER: Turning the page here to the Durham report and wondering when that is going to come out. You’re now a few months away from an election and there’s some expectation that there’s going to be at least some bombshells in there about the investigation of the investigation into Trump collusion.
BARR: I can’t address expectations. I can say that even with the disruption of Covid and the fact that our court system is essentially been shut down for a few months, the Durham team has been working very aggressively to move forward. And as I’ve also said, this isn’t being driven by producing a report. We are trying to get to a point where we can hold accountable anyone who crossed the line and committed a criminal violation. So that’s, I think, what would be the initial stage of a resolution of Durham’s investigation. But I also think that there will be public disclosure and some form of reporters at by appropriate.
BAIER: From what you’ve seen, have crimes been committed?
BARR: Well, I can’t say.
BAIER: Well, can you paint a picture of what it looks like as far as the broad nature of it?
BARR: Well, I think, you know, I think before the election, I think we’re concerned about the motive force behind the very aggressive investigation that was launched into the Trump campaign without, you know, with a very thin, slender reed as a basis for it. It seemed that the bureau was sort of spring loaded at the end of July to drive in there and investigate a campaign.
BARR: And there really wasn’t much there to do that on. And that became more and more evident as they went by. But they seem to have ignored all the exculpatory evidence that was building up and continued Pell-mell to push it forward. So that’s one area of concern. The other area of concern is that after the election, even though they were closing down some of that, as we’ve seen in the Flynn case, and say there’s nothing here, for some reason, they went right back at it, even at a time where the evidentiary support or claim support like the dossier was falling apart. And it’s very hard to understand why they continued to push and even make public testimony that they had an investigation going when it was becoming painfully obvious or should have been obvious to anyone that there was nothing there.
BAIER: You always get lumped in with being political and you’ve pushed back against that, the characterization that you’re the president’s attorney. But as you get closer to an election, doesn’t releasing this report, make it more at risk for falling into that political bucket?
BARR: I’m sure there are people who might say that I’ve publicly made clear that this has not involved looking at President Obama or Vice President Biden. I think the people that we’re looking at are not at that level. And I think what–
BAIER: Names we would be familiar with?
BARR: Some of them.
BARR: But, you know, here’s the thing. For the first time in American history, the police organizations and the national security organizations were used to spy on a campaign and there was no basis for it. The media largely drove all kinds of sensational claims were being made about the president. That could have affected the election. And then and then later on in his administration, there were actions taken that really appear to be efforts to sabotage his campaign. And that has to be looked at. And if people want to say that I’m political because I am looking at those potential abuses of power, so be it. But that’s the job of the attorney general.
BAIER: If you had to characterize the Durham report as, you know, what now? Is it going to be eye opening for Americans or is this can be kind of a blip?
BARR: I you know, I’m very troubled by it. What has been called to my attention so far, but I’m not going to characterize it beyond that.
BAIER: Can you tell us anything about the investigation to unmasking?
BARR: You know, unmasking is not by itself illegal, but the patterns of unmasking can tell us something about people’s motivations at any given point of time. So we’re trying to take a look at the whole waterfront on unmasking what was done, especially in 2016.
BAIER: And are there criminal implications?
BARR: No. As I say, it’s not it’s not against the law to unmask anyone. But I mean, for example, let’s say suppose for a period in the spring, there was a lot of heavy unmasking done on people involved with the Trump campaign. That would be very relevant as to what people were thinking at that time and what their motivations were.
BAIER: You mentioned the Flynn case. You’re in the process of trying to dismiss that charge. The charges yet that Judge Sullivan continues on and has now a shadow prosecutor making a case that it should continue.
BARR: Well, the argument is that it’s always been understood that decisions, whether pursue an individual through the prosecution process or holding them criminally accountable is fit. It’s vested in the executive branch and not the courts. And he is essentially, in our view, trying to set himself up as an alternative prosecutor. And so have you seen anything like this before? I’m not aware of anything like this before, and I think that’s why this is not being argued at the appellate stage in the District of Columbia.
BAIER: I know you can’t get in specifics, but the DOJ inspector general identified this top FBI lawyer who fabricated evidence in order to justify this, warned against Carter Page to spy on him. We know that’s a crime. Yet there haven’t been any charges yet. Is that person still working at the FBI?
BAIER: And are there charges pending?
BARR: We can’t discuss future charges. But I have to say that I do find a little irritating. You know, the propensity in the American public on all sides of the political spectrum when they see something they think could be a criminal violation, I say, why hasn’t this person been indicted again? And, you know, there’s the old saying that that the wheels of justice grind slow and they do run slow because we have due process and we follow the process. But people should not draw from the fact that no action has been taken that taken yet, that that means that people or people are going to get away with wrongdoing.
BAIER: The president is counting on you and your department to crack down on social media platforms for what he calls censorship, including his own tweets. You said the law allows these companies to operate and it’s been stretched beyond its original intent. So you think these firms are somehow censoring the president and his supporters?
BARR: Well, I think there are clearly these entities are now engaged in censorship. And they originally held themselves out as open forum where people, the third parties could come and express their views. And they built up a tremendous network of eyeballs– a lot of market power based on that present presentation. And now they are acting much more like publishers because they’re censoring particular viewpoints and putting their own content in there to diminish the impact of various people’s views.
BAIER: So is there some action that you’re taking?
BARR: Well, we are looking, as many others are at changing Section 230, which is a rule that provides some protection for these companies,.
BAIER: Which would require Congress?
BARR: Which would require Congress.
BAIER: Prisoner swaps with Iran have required the Justice Department to drop charges or agree to time served for defendants in federal courts. Is this a good policy when Iran arrests people for just being American?
BARR: Well, it’s a policy that has to be handled with care, that we don’t invite seizing of more Americans. But in the individual cases where we’ve done this, we felt the benefit outweighed the risk.
BAIER: So it was worth it?
BAIER: More to come on that?
BARR: I can’t say.
BAIER: What is it like working with President Trump in the middle of these crises? Two in a row now and you’ve been meeting with him a lot.
BARR: It’s good because I think the president’s very decisive person and he’s interested in hearing all the views. There’s a lot of robust discussion and he makes a decision and I think he’s been a good leader.
BAIER: If the president is re-elected, would you serve in a second term?
BARR: I am not going to get into that
BAIER: You’re not? But if he asked you, would you?
BARR: That would be presumptuous of me to discuss that.