Conservative commentator Katie Pavlich was not willing to let former Attorney General Eric Holder’s accusation that current Attorney General William Barr is a partisan protector of President Donald Trump go unanswered.
Holder — who served over six years as the Department of Justice head under President Barack Obama — tweeted on Wednesday, “The conduct of AG Barr over the last few weeks and in the hearing today has been shown to be unacceptable.
“I thought he was an institutionalist, committed to both the rule of law and his role as the lawyer for the American people. I was very wrong. He is protecting the President.”
In her own Twitter post, Pavlich, a Fox News contributor, responded:
“Oh spare us. You were the first sitting Attorney General to be voted in civil & criminal contempt by Democrats and Republicans while you were protecting President Obama, who asserted executive privilege to prevent Americans from knowing about your bloody Fast & Furious scandal.”
Oh spare us. You were the first sitting Attorney General to be voted in civil & criminal contempt by Democrats and Republicans while you were protecting President Obama, who asserted executive privilege to prevent Americans from knowing about your bloody Fast & Furious scandal. https://t.co/eTjJO0xe5W
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) May 2, 2019
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to find Holder in contempt of Congress in 2012 for his failure to turn over documents related to the DOJ’s Operation Fast and Furious. As part of the operation, which ran from 2009-11, according to CNN, federal agencies allowed illegal weapons sales to take place in order to track buyers and sellers.
Fast and Furious came to light when U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in southern Arizona in 2010 by a Mexican national using an AK-47 style weapon trafficked as part of the operation, Fox News reported.
The vote to hold Holder in contempt was 255-67, with 17 Democrats siding with the GOP.
According to Politico, dozens of Democratic members marched off the House floor in protest: a total of 107 are listed as not voting.
The then-AG also did not bring charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was found in contempt of Congress too, after she repeatedly refused to testify before House committees, instead pleading the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination.
A few months after Holder left office in 2015, the DOJ announced it would not be charging anyone in relation to the scandal, The Los Angeles Times reported.
In another Wednesday tweet, Holder criticized Barr for saying that the FBI “spied” on the Trump presidential campaign in 2016, describing the notion as, “nonsense.”
“Enough. Stop attacking the men and women of the DOJ/FBI/Mueller team,” he wrote. “Some made mistakes-but the notion that they acted inappropriately or that there was ‘spying’ is nonsense. Expected from partisans in Congress but an AG who won’t stand up for his people is truly amazing.”
Enough. Stop attacking the men and women of the DOJ/FBI/Mueller team. Some made mistakes-but the notion that they acted inappropriately or that there was “spying” is nonsense. Expected from partisans in Congress but an AG who won’t stand up for his people is truly amazing.
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) May 1, 2019
Barr stood by his use of the word “spying” in relation to the surveillance activities directed against Trump’s campaign when questioned about it before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier Wednesday.
Last month, while testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr said, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”
On Wednesday, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island pressed Barr on his use of the word “spying,” asking if he had ever referred to the FBI’s authorized surveillance in that way publicly before.
“I’m not going to abjure the use of the word ‘spying,’” Barr replied.
“My first job was in CIA, and I don’t think the word spying has any pejorative connotation at all. To me, the question is always whether or not it’s authorized and adequately predicated spying.
“I think ‘spying’ is a good English word that in fact doesn’t have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating really all forms of covert intelligence collections. So I’m not going to back off the word ‘spying.’”
The attorney general went on to reaffirm his commitment to reviewing the circumstances surrounding the launch of the counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign in July 2016, dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane.”
The FBI obtained multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The warrants reportedly were secured at least in part through the submission of a dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to the FISA court.
The Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign funded the dossier through the opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
The FBI also reportedly employed at least one informant — Stefan Halper — to make contact with Page, campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and campaign consultant Sam Clovis during the 2016 race.
During his testimony, Barr suggested to GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah that surveillance of the Trump campaign might predate “Crossfire Hurricane” and go beyond the FISA warrant against Page and Halper’s involvement.
“Many people seem to assume that the only intelligence collection that occurred was a single confidential informant and a FISA warrant,” Barr said.
“I’d like to find out whether that is in fact true. It strikes me as a fairly anemic effort if that was the counterintelligence effort designed to stop the threat as it’s being represented.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board praised Barr’s performance to date in a Wednesday editorial titled, “A Real Attorney General.”
The editors argued that Democrats are behaving as partisans by trying to vilify Barr for doing his job, because they are angry that special counsel Robert Mueller did not find Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
“Democrats are also upset that Mr. Barr concluded that Mr. Trump did not obstruct justice regarding the Russia probe,” the editorial stated. “But in that decision too Mr. Barr was behaving as an Attorney General should. Mr. Mueller compiled a factual record but shrank from a ‘prosecutorial judgment.’ Mr. Barr then stepped up and made the call, however unpopular with Democrats and the press.”
The board members contrasted Barr’s conduct with Holder’s successor, Loretta Lynch, “who failed as Barack Obama’s last Attorney General to make a prosecutorial judgment about Hillary Clinton’s misuse of classified information,” abdicating to then-FBI Director James Comey.
“This trashing of Bill Barr shows how frustrated and angry Democrats continue to be that the special counsel came up empty in his Russia collusion probe,” the editors concluded. “He was supposed to be their fast-track to impeachment.
“Now they’re left trying to gin up an obstruction tale, but the probe wasn’t obstructed and there was no underlying crime. So they’re shouting and pounding the table against Bill Barr for acting like a real Attorney General.”
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