Attorney General William Barr stated that his initial look into the origins of the counterintelligence investigation directed against members of the Trump campaign was handled at a “very senior level” and not in the “ordinary way.”
Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer asked Barr in an interview that aired Friday morning about what role the Steele dossier — commissioned by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign — played in the FBI’s investigation.
“That’s one of the questions that we’re going to have to look it,” Barr said. “It’s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that, especially one that on its face had a number of clear mistakes and a somewhat jejune analysis.”
“And to use that to conduct counterintelligence against an American political campaign is a strange — would be a strange development,” he added. “The answers I’m getting are not sufficient.”
Barr said the Department of Justice is currently trying to get to the bottom of not only the role the Steele dossier played, but more broadly how the entire investigation was launched in the first place.
“The thing that’s interesting about this, is that this was handled at a very senior level of these departments, it wasn’t handled in the ordinary way that investigations, or counterintelligence activities are conducted,” he said.
“It was sort of an ad hoc small group and most of these people are no longer with the FBI or the CIA or the other agencies involved,” Barr added.
Though the attorney general did not name names, senior officials that would fit the category of no longer being with the FBI or the CIA would include former FBI Director James Comey, who signed the first Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant application against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, as well as former CIA Director John Brennan.
Also meeting that criteria would be former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former chief of the FBI’s counterespionage section Peter Strzok, who reportedly helped initiate the counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign and Russian election interference dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane.”
Barr told Hemmer the answers he has been getting, so far, as to how the investigation got underway have not been satisfactory.
“I’ve been trying to get answers to questions, and I’ve found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate, and I’ve also found that some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together,” he said.
“If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason, we should be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale,” Barr continued. “I’m not saying that happened, but I’m saying that we have to look at that.”
Earlier this month, Barr did not back down when questioned before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his use of the word “spying” in relation to the FBI’s activities directed against the Trump campaign.
“I think spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated,” he said.
Fox News reported that Barr has assigned U.S. Attorney John Dunham “to conduct the inquiry into alleged misconduct and alleged improper government surveillance on the Trump campaign in 2016 as well as whether Democrats were the ones who improperly colluded with foreign actors.”
President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday, “My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!”
A new Fox News survey finds that 58 percent of registered voters think it is at least “somewhat” likely the FBI broke the law when it started investigating the Trump campaign.
Twenty-four percent answered it was “extremely” likely, while 14 percent felt it “very” likely.
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