Fact-Checking Attorney General Barr’s NBC Interview

7 mins read
William Barr in Washington, DC, May 13, 2019. Photo by: Shane T. McCoy / US Marshals. (CC BY 2.0)

BARR CLAIM: “I think based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press.”

  • FACT: The US Intelligence Community concluded that Russia attacked the US to help Trump in 2016
  • IG REPORT: “Although not mentioned in the [FBI electronic communication], at the time, FBI officials involved in opening the investigation had reason to believe that Russia may have been connected to the Wikileaks disclosures that occurred earlier in July 2016, and were aware of information regarding Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections.” [ii]
  • FACT: There were more than 100 contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Kremlin-cutouts during the 2016 campaign 
  • FACT: The Russia investigation resulted in 37 criminal indictments

BARR CLAIM: “All [the IG] said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn’t find anything to contradict it… He hasn’t decided the issue of improper motive… I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done.”

  • IG Report: “We also sought to determine whether there was evidence that political bias or other improper considerations affected decision-making in Crossfire Hurricane, including the decision to open the investigation… We concluded that Priestap’s exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with Department and FBI policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision. We similarly found that, while the formal documentation opening each of the four individual investigations was approved by Strzok (as required by the DIOG), the  decisions to do so were reached by a consensus among the Crossfire Hurricane agents and analysts who identified individuals associated with the Trump campaign who had recently traveled to Russia or had other alleged ties to Russia. Priestap was involved in these decisions. We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations.” [iii-iv]

BARR CLAIM: “[The campaign] was clearly spied upon… That’s what electronic surveillance is … going through people’s emails, wiring people up.”

  • IG Report: “All of the witnesses we interviewed told the OIG that the FBI did not try to recruit members of the Trump campaign as [Confidential Human Sources], did not send CHSs to collect information in  Trump campaign headquarters or Trump campaign spaces, and did not ask CHSs to join the Trump campaign or otherwise attend campaign related events as part of the investigation. Using the methodology described above, we found no information indicating otherwise.” [P. 311]

BARR CLAIM: “From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government use the apparatus of the state… both to spy on political opponents but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of an election.” 

  • FACT: The Trump Administration just did exactly this. It withheld $400 million in tax-payer funded military assistance designated for an ally at war to pressure that ally to announce an investigation into President Trump’s political rival… in order to affect the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
  • IG Report: “We also concluded that, under the AG Guidelines and the DIOG, the FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane to obtain information about, or protect against, a national security threat or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity.” [ii]

BARR CLAIM: “[The] case collapsed after the election and they never told the court and they kept on getting these renewals.”

  • NBC News: “The inspector general report does not say the FBI’s Russia case collapsed after the election. It does say that the FBI interviewed some of the sources for the dossier written by a British operative, who raised questions about his reporting. But by then, the investigation had moved well beyond anything in the dossier… After the election, there was a different set of counterintelligence concerns that Horowitz did not address in his report and Barr did not mention in the interview: Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and told Russian officials in the Oval Office that doing so relieved pressure on him over Russia. That led then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to open a counterintelligence investigation into Trump, the results of which have never been disclosed.” [12/10/2019]

BARR CLAIM: “In one area I do disagree with the IG and that was whether there was sufficient predication to open a full blown counterintelligence investigation, specifically using the techniques that they did to collect intelligence about the Trump campaign.”

  • IG Report: “Given the low threshold for predication in the AG Guidelines and the DIOG, we concluded that the FFG information, provided by a government the United States Intelligence Community (USIC) deems trustworthy, and describing a first-hand account from an FFG employee of a conversation with Papadopoulos, was sufficient to predicate the investigation.” [iii]
  • IG Report:  “All of the investigative actions taken by the Crossfire Hurricane team, from the date the case was opened on July 31 until October 21 (the date of the first FISA order) would have been permitted whether the case was opened as a Preliminary or Full Investigation.” [iii]
  • FBI Director Christopher Wray: “[It is] important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.” [ABC News, 12/9/2019]

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Law Works engages bipartisan voices and educates the public on the importance of the rule of law, the role of the special counsel in the justice system, and the integrity of our judicial institutions.

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