In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel, Attorney General William Barr said that a “willful if small group of people” was using the claim of collusion with Russia to try to “topple an administration.”
From there, Barr went into greater detail on the Durham probe and explained why it hadn’t been finished this year:
Mr. Barr says Mr. Durham’s appointment should not have been necessary. Mr. Mueller’s investigation should have exposed FBI malfeasance. Instead, “the Mueller team seems to have been ready to blindly accept anything fed to it by the system,” Mr. Barr says, adding that this “is exactly what DOJ should not be.”
Mr. Durham hasn’t finished his work, to the disappointment of many Republicans, including the president, who were hoping for a resolution—perhaps including indictments—before the election. Mr. Barr notes that Mr. Durham had to wait until the end of 2019 for Inspector General Michael Horowitz to complete his own investigation into the FBI’s surveillance. Then came the Covid lockdowns, which suspended federal grand juries for six months. Mr. Durham could no longer threaten to subpoena uncooperative witnesses.
“I understand people’s frustration over the timing, and there are prosecutors who break more china, so to speak,” Mr. Barr says. “But they don’t necessarily get the results.” Mr. Durham will, and is making “significant progress,” says Mr. Barr, who disclosed this month that he had prior to the election designated Mr. Durham a special counsel, to provide assurance that his team would be able to finish its work. The new designation also assures that Mr. Durham will produce a report to the attorney general. Mr. Barr believes “the force of circumstances will ensure it goes public” even under the new administration.
The biggest news from Mr. Durham’s probe is what he has ruled out. Mr. Barr was initially suspicious that agents had been spying on the Trump campaign before the official July 2016 start date of Crossfire Hurricane, and that the Central Intelligence Agency or foreign intelligence had played a role. But even prior to naming Mr. Durham special counsel, Mr. Barr had come to the conclusion that he didn’t “see any sign of improper CIA activity” or “foreign government activity before July 2016,” he says. “The CIA stayed in its lane.”
Mr. Barr says Mr. Durham’s probe is now tightly focused on “the conduct of Crossfire Hurricane, the small group at the FBI that was most involved in that,” as well as “the activities of certain private actors.” (Mr. Barr doesn’t elaborate.) Mr. Durham has publicly stated he’s not convinced the FBI team had an adequate “predicate” to launch an investigation.
In other words, they believe that FBI agents investigated the Trump campaign for political reasons, not because there was a legitimate reason to believe that they were colluding with the Russian government. In fact, as former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said back in 2018, the Russian government appeared to be trying to create chaos, not help Trump get elected,
“I haven’t seen any evidence that the attempts to interfere in our election infrastructure was to favor a particular political party. I think what we’ve seen on the foreign influence side is they were attempting to intervene and cause chaos on both sides, right, whether it was in Charlottesville where we saw them on both sides, whether it’s in Syria, both sides….“I think the overall purpose is to sow discord and get us all to fight against each other rather than understand who the enemy is.”
Rather than opening an investigation, why didn’t the FBI give the Trump campaign the same courtesy they gave to Eric Swalwell when he was targeted by a Chinese spy? In that case, they have him a “defensive briefing” and he cut ties with her. If, as many of us believe, the FBI didn’t go that way because they wanted to use their powers to try to hurt a political campaign they didn’t like, that’s a big problem. The FBI absolutely, unconditionally should NEVER do something like that because it would tarnish the agency, which needs to remain impartial. That’s why the Durham probe is so important. We need to not only get to the bottom of this, we need to make sure that the FBI does their job without political bias. When the Durham probe concludes, we’ll have a much better idea of how many changes need to be made to guarantee that happens.