Last month, Attorney General William Barr came under fire from the left for using the word “spying” to describe the Obama administration’s actions against the Trump campaign: “I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated.” Despite the backlash, Barr isn’t shying away from using the word. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal that was published today about the ongoing review of the origins of the Russia investigation, he said unabashedly, “Government power was used to spy on American citizens.” He added, “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.”
Cue the triggered leftists.
In another interview that aired on Fox News this morning, Barr said that “people have to find out what the government was doing during that period,” and noted that he’s determined to get to the bottom of what happened. “If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason shouldn’t we be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale?”
“I’m not saying that happened, but it’s something we have to look at,” Barr added.
Barr also addressed accusations that he lied under oath to Congress. “It’s a laughable charge and I think it’s largely being made to try to discredit me partly because they may be concerned about the outcome of a review of what happened during the election,” he said. “They may be trying to undermine my credibility, but obviously you can look at the face of my testimony and see on its face that there was nothing inaccurate about it.”
While the decision to look back at the origins of the investigation has prompted harsh criticism from Democrats who previously have accused him of acting as the president’s lawyer, Barr argued there’s much yet to learn.
“I think there’s a misconception out there that we know a lot about what happened,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is Bob Mueller did not look at the government’s activities. He was looking at whether or not the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russians. But he was not going back and looking at the counterintelligence program. And we have a number of investigations underway that touch upon it — the main one being the office of inspector general that’s looking at the FISA warrants.”
Barr specifically acknowledged that the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day will be key, saying “some very strange developments” took place in that time – including the early January 2017 briefing intelligence officials gave to the president at Trump Tower and “the leaking of information subsequent to that meeting.”
Attorney General Barr clearly isn’t swayed by Democrat attacks. He continues to describe what happened to the Trump campaign as spying, and recently approached Nancy Pelosi at a D.C. event and asked her if she’d brought handcuffs—a quip referencing Democrat calls for Barr to be arrested.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in July 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis