Attorney General William Barr received harsh criticism from Democrats on Friday when the Justice Department indicated that it had amped up its review of the origins of the investigation into Russian interference involving the 2016 presidential election.
Inside sources confirmed on Thursday that the inquiry was now a criminal investigation, which indicates that John Durham, the federal prosecutor in charge, thinks there may have been laws that were broken.
Of course, some Democratic lawmakers, as well as several former U.S. officials, indicate they have not seen any evidence of improper behavior at all – especially illegal activity – by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies during the investigation.
“We’ve found nothing remotely justifying this,” said Senator Mark Warner, the head Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who has been investigating the issue for three years.
Democrats and former law enforcement officials have accused Barr of wielding the power of the Justice Department to follow up on conspiracy theories that could benefit President Trump politically and undermine the findings of Mueller’s Russia investigation. These critics have also accused Barr of acting as Trump’s personal attorney rather than in the nation’s interest.
Attorney General Barr however, defended the integrity of the probe led by U.S. Attorney John Durham and defended accusations against himself. “That’s completely wrong and there is no basis for it, and I act on behalf of the United States,” Barr said about accusations that he was acting as Trump’s attorney.
He also said that while he is certainly assisting Durham with countries that could have valuable information, Durham is running the show.
“He is in charge of the investigation, I’m not doing the investigation,” Barr said. He also said that he thought the job Durham was doing is “thorough and fair” and that he is making progress.
“I do want to say that one of the reasons Mr. Durham is able to make the kind of progress he’s making is because Director Wray and his team at the FBI have just been outstanding in support and responsiveness given to Mr. Durham,” Barr said. “As you know, I’ve said previously that I felt there was a failure of leadership at the bureau in 2016 and part of 2017, but since Director Wray and his team have taken over there’s been a world of change. I think that he is restoring the steady professionalism that’s been a hallmark of the FBI. I really appreciate his leadership there.”
When called on by Warner to testify before Congress, Barr said, “It wouldn’t be appropriate at this stage for me to discuss the Durham investigation.” But, the AG indicated he would “certainly inform the public and Congress” when possible. As for the direction of the investigation, he said: “We’ll let the chips fall where they may.”