Attorney General William Barr told NBC News on Tuesday that he thinks the FBI acted on “bad faith” when it investigated Donald Trump’s campaign’s links to the Russian government during and after the 2016 election.
“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 told NBC’s Pete Williams. “I think there were gross abuses…and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI.”
It’s unclear what Barr was referring to when he made that statement.
An independent report released Monday by Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, found that the FBI had an “authorized purpose” when it launched the Russia investigation in July 2016.
It also found that there were irregularities in the bureau’s application for a warrant to surveil the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, but there is no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page.”
In other words, while scrutiny of the FBI’s surveillance apparatus as a whole is warranted, the bureau’s decision to monitor Page, who was suspected of being an unwitting Russian agent, was not infected by political bias, as Trump, Barr, and their allies have claimed for years.
Barr continued asserting that the Trump campaign was spied on and noted that the FBI used confidential informants who recorded conversations with campaign officials, according to NBC News.
Barr then made the outlandish suggestion that Obama and the FBI were more of a danger to democracy than Russia.
“From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government use the apparatus of the state … both to spy on political opponents but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of an election,” Barr told NBC News.
Horowitz’s report found that the bureau’s use of confidential informants was in compliance with longstanding rules and protocol. But Barr vehemently disagreed with Horowitz’s findings, saying the inspector general wasn’t thorough in his investigation.
“All he said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn’t find anything to contradict it,” Barr told NBC News. “He hasn’t decided the issue of improper motive. I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done.”
WATCH VIDEO BELOW:
William Barr argues that Obama and the FBI posed a greater threat to democracy than Russia. pic.twitter.com/OohoohKhUt
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) December 10, 2019