Barr Pours Cold Water on Criminal Charges for Obama and Biden, But Leaves Room for Others

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Posted: May 18, 2020 1:30 PM
Barr Pours Cold Water on Criminal Charges for Obama and Biden, But Leaves Room for Others

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Speaking from the Department of Justice Monday morning, Attorney General Bill Barr poured cold water on the idea of a criminal investigation into former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. 

"As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement based on the information I have today, I don't expect Mr. Durham's work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man. Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others," Barr said. "The Durham investigation is trying to get to the bottom of what happened. And it will determine whether there were any federal laws broken and if there were, those who broke the law will be held to account. But this cannot be and it will not be a tit-for-tat exercise. We are not going to lower the standards just to achieve a result. The only way to stop this vicious cycle, the only way to break away from a dual system of justice, is to make sure that we scrupulously apply the single and proper standard of justice for everybody."

It has been revealed in recent weeks that President Obama knew about the FBI's surveillance of General Michael Flynn and asked during a January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting whether he should be treated "any differently." Further, Vice President Biden unmasked Flynn on January 12, 2017.

But while a criminal investigation into Obama or Biden is highly unlikely, Barr left the door open on other Obama officials. 

"I have a general idea of how Mr. Durham's investigation is going. And as I have indicated some aspects of the matter are being examined as potential crimes. But we have to bear in mind with the Supreme Court recently reminded us of in the 'Bridgegate' case. The court said there's a difference between an abuse of power and a federal crime. Not every abuse of power no matter how outrageous is necessarily a federal crime," Barr said. "Under the longstanding standards of the department criminal charges are appropriate only, when we have enough evidence to prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That is the standard we're applying."

Further, Barr stressed the need for the criminal justice system to stop being used as a political weapon and committed to keeping that type of interference out of the 2020 presidential election.

"What happened to the president in the 2016 election and throughout the first two years of his administration was abhorrent. It was a grave injustice and it was unprecedented in American history," Barr said. "The law enforcement and intelligence apparatus of this country were involved in advancing a false and utterly baseless Russian collusion narrative against the president. The proper investigative and prosecutorial standards of the Department of Justice were abused in my view in order to reach a particular result. We saw two different standards of justice emerge, one that applied to President Trump and his associates, and the other that applied to everybody else. We can't allow this ever to happen again."

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