Attorney General William Barr sat down for an interview with CBS News after special counsel Robert Mueller’s press conference Wednesday and when asked why he’s looking into the origins of the surveillance of the Trump campaign, said that the facts are “just not jiving.”
CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford asked Barr about the criticism he received when he testified before Congress that he believed there was “spying” going on during the 2016 general election on the Trump campaign.
“I guess it’s become a dirty word somehow. It never has been for me,” Barr replied. “I think there’s nothing wrong with spying, the question is always whether it’s authorized by law.”
Crawford noted “some former intelligence chiefs” have accused President Trump of making the word spying “somewhat pejorative,” and that by using the term, Barr is being “a loyalist.”
“It’s part of the craziness of the modern day, that is a president uses a word, then all of a sudden it becomes off bounds,” he answered.
The attorney general was asked “what evidence have you seen” that prompted him to look into the matter.
“Like many other people who are familiar with intelligence activities, I had a lot of questions about what was going on,” Barr replied. “I assumed I’d get answers when I went in and I have not gotten answers that are satisfactory and, in fact, have probably more questions and that some of the facts I’ve learned don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened.”
When pressed by Crawford on what he meant, Barr would only say, “Things are just not jiving.”
Barr comes after Trump granted him the authority to declassify all documents and information pertaining to 2016 surveillance of the president’s campaign.
President Trump granted Barr the authority to declassify information pertaining to the Russian collusion investigation, and Barr told CBS News he asked the president for that authority.
Trump has been very critical of the intelligence agencies “spying” on him, calling it an “attempted overthrow” of his presidency. He also accused DOJ officials in the Obama administration who oversaw the Russia probe of committing treason.
Crawford asked Barr if he agreed with that assessment.
“Not as a legal matter, no,” he said.
“But you have concerns about how they conducted the investigation?” she asked in a follow-up.
Barr suggested that there are some problems with what went on, answering, “Yes.”
“Sometimes people can convince themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good,” he said. “They don’t realize that what they’re doing is really antithetical to the democratic system we have.”
Perhaps the most damning thing coming out of the interview was shared by the chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel.
“AG Barr is spot on,” she tweeted, along with the clip. “Democrats are shredding the norms and institutions of our democracy with their full-blown resistance to Trump.”
“I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying that its President Trump that’s shredding our institutions,” Barr said. “I really see no evidence of that. From my perspective, the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him… really changing the norms on the grounds that ‘we have to stop this president,’ that’s where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.”
AG Barr is spot on.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) May 31, 2019
Here’s a quick sampling of reactions to the interview with CBS News from Twitter:
Bill “No Holds” Barr https://t.co/WU5luFY116
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) May 31, 2019
Setting aside the assertion that Barr ‘misinterpreted’ Mueller, Barr, Rosenstein & team didn’t “overrule” Mueller on obstruction charges because Mueller didn’t make a recommendation to be overruled. https://t.co/XKNtrLhJfi
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) May 31, 2019
AG Barr rightly criticizes "former senior intelligence officials" for legitimately violating norms and doing damage to our political system in their hyper-politicization https://t.co/ugEFPb34ti pic.twitter.com/tB1BDTtVbN
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) May 31, 2019
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) May 31, 2019
AG Barr on Spygate: "republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where gov't officials get arrogant, they identify national interest with own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has diff opinion is an enemy of the state." https://t.co/Xk16h1sgAA
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) May 31, 2019
This interview of Bill Barr by @JanCBS is fascinating. Don't just watch the clips. Read the whole transcript. Barr seems deadly serious about getting to the bottom of the anti-Trump spy and leak campaign run by Comey and Brennan in 2016 and 2017. https://t.co/4txkqq5STr
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) May 31, 2019
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