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AG Barr Weighs in on IG Report and FISA Abuse in New Interview

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Attorney General William Barr had an exclusive interview with NBC News’ Pete Williams where he noted his concerns with the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on FISA abuses under the Obama administration. The review concerned how the FBI acted concerning the FISA spy warrant it obtained against former Trump campaign official Carter Page. Overall, the report noted that there were over a dozen errors when it came to the FISA application, including omitting information and exculpatory evidence, a failure that was systemic. The IG report does torch the FBI but noted that there was no evidence of political bias concerning the bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016. That’s a serious issue. And all the deviations from department policy appear to be those who wanted to try and hurt the Trump campaign. Yet, there’s no bias? This is why there’s so much skepticism on that part of the report because we know there was bias. It was ingrained when former FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok’s text messages were revealed. The DOJ IG does not have subpoena power, so a deep dive was not possible, but it was a nice appetizer to the main course: AG Barr’s investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation, which is headed by U.S. Attorney John Durham. The investigation recently became a criminal one. 


In his interview with NBC News, Barr disagreed with the IG report concerning the alleged spy operation that was executed against the Trump campaign, saying it was quite clear this was the case. Last week, leaks about the IG report noted that the inspector general didn’t find such evidence, but what else would you call an operation where an operative is sent to glean information from someone under false pretenses and relay that to a superior. The New York Times twisted themselves into pretzels over this aspect, eventually doling out distinctions without a difference when it came to the spy allegation. Even Obama’s former spy czar, James Clapper, said what the FBI did here—using undercover informants who targeted Trump officials George Papadopoulos, Sam Clovis, and Carter Page without them knowing who they worked for—fell under the definition of spying (via NBC News):

Attorney General William Barr said he still believes the FBI may have operated out of "bad faith" when it investigated whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and he contends the FBI acted improperly by continuing the investigation after Donald Trump took office.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News, Barr essentially dismissed the findings of the Justice Department's inspector general that there was no evidence of political bias in the launching of the Russia probe, saying that his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, will have the last word on the matter.

"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."

"I think that leaves open the possibility that there was bad faith."


Inspector General Michael Horowitz, after reviewing a million documents and interviewing 100 people, concluded that he "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open" the investigations into Trump campaign aides.

But Barr argued that Horowitz didn't look very hard, and that the inspector general accepted the FBI's explanations at face value.

"All he said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn't find anything to contradict it…he hasn't decided the issue of improper motive," Barr said. "I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done."

Barr said he stood by his assertion that the Trump campaign was spied on, noting that the FBI used confidential informants who recorded conversations with Trump campaign officials.

"It was clearly spied upon," he said. "That's what electronic surveillance is … going through people's emails, wiring people up."


The Times piece about Crossfire Hurricane pretty much lays out a rather basic spy operation, where one woman whose name is supposedly Azra Turk, was sent to London to rendezvous with Papadopoulosin the hopes of getting information concerning the campaign’s alleged Russia ties. The meeting was set up under false pretenses Papadopoulos didn’t know she was FBI. He thinks she was CIA. 

This whole circus (or circus) was based on the debunked, unverified, and inaccurate Trump dossier that was compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British spy after he was contracted by Fusion GPS, a research firm. Oh, and who hired Fusion? The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democrats did. So, it was a politically biased piece of opposition research that was used to secure the spy warrant against Page and set off this Russian collusion myth that engulfed the media for two years. Oh, sorry—this Turk woman was also the one who was running the alleged spy operation that also included longtime FBI and CIA asset Stefan Halper, who also tried to infiltrate the Trump orbit. But this isn’t spying, they tell me


The conversation at a London bar in September 2016 took a strange turn when the woman sitting across from George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser, asked a direct question: Was the Trump campaign working with Russia?

The woman had set up the meeting to discuss foreign policy issues. But she was actually a government investigator posing as a research assistant, according to people familiar with the operation. The F.B.I. sent her to London as part of the counterintelligence inquiry opened that summer to better understand the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.


Ms. Turk went to London to help oversee the politically sensitive operation, working alongside a longtime informant, the Cambridge professor Stefan A. Halper. The move was a sign that the bureau wanted in place a trained investigator for a layer of oversight, as well as someone who could gather information for or serve as a credible witness in any potential prosecution that emerged from the case.

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