Attorney General William Barr has formed a team to investigate allegations the FBI and Justice Department spied on the Trump campaign in 2016.
“To the extent there was overreach, what we have to be concerned about is a few people at the top getting it into their heads that they know better than the American people,” Barr informed the Senate Judiciary Panel on Friday.
Rt.com reports: “We now know that he was being falsely accused,” the AG said of President Donald Trump. “We have to stop using the criminal justice process as a political weapon.”
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Barr hinted he was zeroing in on senior figures in the Justice Department and FBI and said he would concentrate on when exactly intel collection had begun, whether it was earlier than previously reported, and how many “confidential informants” the FBI had in Trump’s campaign.
Barr’s announcement comes amid heated demand for such an investigation among top GOP figures. Republican party chair Ronna McDaniel echoed Trump’s denouncement of the prosecutorial “witch hunt,” calling out former President Barack Obama and former FBI Director James Comey for overseeing a scandal she called “worse than Watergate.”
McDaniel’s tweet came a day after the New York Times ran a story detailing how the FBI sent an agent named “Azra Turk”to London to meet with former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos in 2016. Papadopoulos said he’d met with several spies while in London, who probed him for connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. He maintains that he knew Turk to be a spy from their first meeting, and figured her for a CIA operative.
The FBI’s counterintelligence operation against Papadopoulos and the Trump campaign is currently being probed by the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz, with a report due later this month or in June, according to Attorney General William Barr.
Among other things, Horowitz’s report will examine the actions of Stefan Halper, a Cambridge University professor and FBI informant who invited Papadopoulos to London and spoke to several other Trump campaign officials to gather information for the bureau. Turk posed as a university assistant to Halper while meeting Papadopoulos in London.
The report will likely also detail the FBI’s alleged misuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to obtain a wiretap on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The warrant was obtained based on unproven allegations contained in the now-infamous Democrat-financed ‘Steele Dossier:’ Allegations that former FBI Director Comey admitted later that the agency knew were uncorroborated.
President Trump greeted the New York Times’ report with interest. “Finally, Mainstream Media is getting involved,” he tweeted on Friday. “This is bigger than WATERGATE but the reverse.”
Watergate was the scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon in 1974, after he was accused of sending agents to break into the Democratic party offices and then covering it up.
With Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report clearing Trump of any collusion with Russia, the investigative pendulum has begun to swing back towards the FBI and the Democrats in Washington. AG Barr sent shockwaves through the Washington establishment last month, when he declared that FBI “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign.
“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr told a Congressional hearing.
On Capitol Hill, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-California) has said that he will make several criminal referrals to Barr, while Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) promised to launch his own investigation into the FBI’s Trump probe.
“They were so in the tank for Clinton and hated Trump’s guts,” Graham told McClatchy on Wednesday, referring to the FBI.