WASHINGTON – Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security advisor to President Obama, said U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and the Justice Department “will find nothing” that shows former President Obama or White House staff had any political “involvement” in the origins of the Trump campaign and Russia collusion investigation during Obama’s time in office.
Rhodes was asked if he thinks the DOJ will find anything during the investigation.
“No, no, I cannot be clear enough about this. We didn’t even know there was an FBI investigation of Trump. I didn’t. President Obama didn’t, like, we actually abided by the firewalls between – if there were any investigations that took place, those decisions were made in the Justice Department, in the FBI, not in the White House,” Rhodes said about the DOJ probe after a discussion at Georgetown University about his book The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House on Thursday evening.
“They will find nothing that suggests there was any political or White House involvement in any of that. Literally, I learned about the FBI investigation of Trump as a private citizen in the frickin’ Washington Post. So, you have to understand, we actually abided by the longstanding practice of the White House not getting involved in that kind of stuff,” he added.
The DOJ Inspector General is currently investigating the origins of the Russia probe during the Obama years. The final redacted Mueller report was released last week.
“To what end is this? We’re going to attack law enforcement for – I mean, we know from the Mueller report that the initiation of the investigations came from, not the dossier, but from the contacts that George Papadopoulos had in London, right, so the whole origin of this stupid conspiracy theory has been disproven by exhaustive work. So, to me, the whole thing is a waste of time,” Rhodes said.
Questioning how the dossier was used in 2016 as the Russia probe got underway, Republicans such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have said, “You can’t have the FBI using one party’s opposition research document to launch an investigation and spy on the other party’s campaign.”
Rhodes said he did not see the dossier that former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele put together on Trump and Russia until January of 2017.
“We had nothing to do with that, nothing. I saw it – I heard about it at the very end when, you know, in January of 2017, like, we weren’t involved in commissioning the dossier like that’s crazy, you know. We learned about it when it was in the report that was appended to the report that went to Congress at the end of the administration,” Rhodes said. “I have been investigated by these committees and I’m telling you they didn’t find it. No, we had nothing to do with the dossier. I mean, like literally, nothing to do with this dossier.”
Rhodes continued, “I’m not an investigator. I haven’t even read this whole dossier. You guys are focused on this. Have fun, have your witch-hunt. We did not initiate this.”
President Trump recently said he wants to go “back to the origins of exactly where this all started because this was an illegal witch hunt and everybody knew it. And they got caught. What they did was treason, what they did was terrible.”
When this reporter noted that the press has been covering Trump’s recent statements about the origins of the Russia probe, Rhodes replied, “The president lies relentlessly everyday so I don’t think you need to chase down every lie he tells.”