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President Donald Trump stopped short of openly criticizing Attorney General William Barr but doubled down on his contention that former President Obama was involved in the Russia “hoax” against him.
The president told reporters Monday he had “no doubt” that his predecessor and former Vice President Joe Biden were “involved” in the crimes committed before he took office in what he has been calling “ObamaGate.”
(Source: The Hill)
During a White House meeting with restaurant executives on Monday, Trump was asked for his reaction to the attorney general’s remarks dismissing a potential criminal investigation into Obama and Biden. The president noted that, if the tables were turned and ” if it was me, they would do it,” but expressed his surprise at Barr’s comments.
“I don’t know. I’m surprised, because Obama knew everything that was happening,” he said. “As far as Biden is concerned, I can’t — that, I can’t tell you. Only he knows what he knows. So I don’t think he knows too much.”
“But I think Obama and Biden knew about it. They were participants, but — so I’m a little surprised by that statement,” Trump continued, referring to Barr’s comments during a press conference on Monday.
Asked about recent accusations against Obama and Biden’s involvement in efforts to thwart Trump in the first weeks after his election, the attorney general threw cold water on the possibility of a criminal investigation being lauched.
Barr: I don’t expect a criminal investigation of Obama or Biden based on what I know of Durham probe https://t.co/CED7YZCYOq
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 18, 2020
“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” he said, referring to the ongoing investigation being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut into the origins of the Russia probe.
“Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others,” Barr added.
While he noted that “some aspects are being investigated as potential crimes,” referring to Durham’s probe, Barr said that “not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime.”
The president repeated his reaction but pointed out the “double standard” in not investigating the Democrats.
“But if it was me, I guarantee they’d be going after me. In his case, they’re not, so I think it’s just a continuation of a double standard,” he said, adding, “I’m surprised by it. I’m surprised by it.”
The reporter pressed the president on the implications of Barr’s contention that the Justice Department and Durham’s probe would not be used as a “political weapon.”
“We cannot allow this process to be hijacked by efforts to drum up criminal investigations of either candidate,” Barr said, adding that “any effort to pursue an investigation of either candidate has to be approved by me.”
“Well, I think you’d have to ask him what that means, because I’m in no position to tell you that. I’ve stayed away from it. I’m relying on the Attorney General to do the job. And so I don’t know exactly what he said because I was in this room,” Trump replied.
Asked if he would be “disappointed if there is no criminal investigation of Biden or Obama,” the president repeated his belief that there was an attempt at an “illegal takedown.”
“I don’t say disappointed or not, but I have no doubt that they were involved in this hoax — one of the worst things ever to befall this country in terms of political scandal. I have absolutely no doubt that Obama and Biden were involved,” Trump said.
And as to whether or not it was criminal, I would think it would be very serious. Very, very serious. It was a takedown of a President, regardless of me. It happened to be me. And, in my opinion, it was an illegal takedown,” he added.
“But, I’m going to let the attorney general make all of those decisions. I’ve stayed out of it because it’s the appropriate thing to do. I wouldn’t have to stay out of it, as you know, but I’ve decided to stay out of it,” the president continued.
He added that he would be looking at what Barr said exactly but reiterated his intention to not get involved, pointing out that Barr is an “honorable” man.
“I’ll have to look at it exactly as to what was said, what was meant. I will say this: We have an honorable Attorney General. He’s going to do an honorable job. He’s a very honorable man, and he’s going to do a very honorable job,” Trump said.
“But I am surprised only in that I have no doubt — personally, I have no doubt, but he may have another feeling. I have no doubt that they were involved in it,” he added, slamming Democrats for the relentless efforts against him.
“It’s a hoax. It started off with a Russian hoax. They went to a Ukraine hoax. It’s just a whole big disgrace. And this country has better things to do. It’s a disgrace. What they’ve done to this country with these phony investigations — the Mueller investigation was a waste of time from day one. They knew it was a waste of time. It proved to be a waste of time,” Trump said.
“I think there are a lot of bad people involved,” he concluded. “And they should pay a very big price if they were caught.”
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