Attorney General William Barr ripped into former FBI officials on Tuesday, Dec. 10, involved in opening the investigation, calling the probe into the Trump campaign and Russia a “travesty,” “completely bogus narrative” fanned by an “irresponsible press.”
Barr, during a Dec. 10 appearance on NBC News pointed out that the FBI started out with the “thinnest of suspicions” to probe into Trump campaign associates in July 2016, and that the FBI could have acted in “bad faith” in initiating the probe.
“I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press,” Barr said. “I think there were gross abuses … and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI.”
In his interview, Barr stressed that Inspector General Michael Horowitz has not officially concluded whether there was no political motive behind the FBI’s decisions in the Russia probe, but rather, he could not provide evidence to support this.
“The core statement in my opinion by the IG is that these irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactory explained and I think that leaves open the possibility for bad faith,” Barr explained. “I think it’s premature now to reach a judgment on that, but I think further work has to be done and that’s what Durham is doing.”
Horowitz will be testifying on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his findings, according to ABC News.
Barr in particular doubled down on the IG report findings for the fact that agents who applied for a surveillance warrant to watch former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were discovered to have contained in excess of 17 significant errors and omissions that may have affected the probable cause standard required for the warrant’s approvals and renewals, according to ABC News.
“Their case collapsed after the election and they never told the court,” Barr said. “And they kept getting renewals on the applications. There were documents falsified in order to get the renewals. There was all kinds of withholding of information from the court. And the question really is what was the agenda after the election that kept them pressing ahead, after their case collapsed?”
“I think that there were gross abuses of FISA and inexplicable behavior that was intolerable in the FBI,” Barr added. “And the attorney general’s primary responsibility is to protect against the abuse of the law enforcement and intelligence apparatus.”
Barr unloaded on the FBI investigation, saying that it was “flimsy” for the FBI to begin the probe based on former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos’s July 2016 communications to a diplomat claiming that he knew the Russians had ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton.
“They jumped right into a full-scale investigation before they even went to talk to the foreign officials about exactly what was said,” Barr blasted the FBI’s basis for opening the Russia probe. “They opened an investigation into the campaign and they used very intrusive techniques.”
“There were many abuses, and that’s by far the most important part of the [inspector general] report,” Barr said during a WSJ CEO Council sit-down.
When asked about President Trump’s dissatisfaction of FBI Director Chris Wray earlier Tuesday for his interpretation of the Horowitz report, Barr stated that he sympathized with the president as he believes Wray has understated the report’s findings.
“I think what the president was getting at, and I feel the same way, is that we can’t ignore the abuses of the past. And appear to be justifying them or minimizing them,” Barr said.