President Donald Trump on Thursday said that Attorney General William Barr’s legacy is hanging in the balance: either the Justice Department’s probe into the origins of the federal government’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign goes as the president hopes or Barr will be forgotten. Interestingly, though, Trump’s hopes for Barr seem at odds with Barr’s own hopes for himself.
The back story, of course, is that Barr hand-picked John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, to lead the probe which the president has long claimed will reveal that the Obama administration illegally spied on his campaign.
In an interview with Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo, Trump said the attorney general will be remembered by whether or not top officials from the previous administration will face prosecution, specifically mentioning President Barack Obama and 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden by name.
“I hope [Durham] is doing a great job, and I hope they’re not going to be politically correct, and I hope they do watch. Because the fact is, this was President Obama knew everything and Vice President Biden, as dumb as he may be, he knew everything, and everybody else knew everything,” Trump said.
Trump then railed against fired FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, claiming they lied to Congress and conspired to jail former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. After falsely claiming that the FBI had just declared that Flynn didn’t lie to federal investigators (DOJ has argued that Flynn’s false statements were not material), and saying the aforementioned officials committed “treason,” Trump returned to Barr’s legacy.
“They spied before and after I won,” Trump said. “I hope they’re not going to be politically correct and say, ‘Well, you know. We wanna go — let’s get the lower guys who forged the documents going into FISA. Let’s just get a couple of the lower guys.'”
“Bill Barr can go down as the greatest attorney general in the history of our country, or he can go down as an average guy. It depends on what’s going to happen,” the president said. “Bill Barr and Durham have a chance to be — Bill Barr is great most of the time, but if he wants to be politically correct, he’ll be just another guy.” (See the 32-minute mark.)
Barr on Wednesday told conservative political commentator Buck Sexton that Durham’s probe would continue “during the election season” and said the DOJ was “trying to get some things accomplished before the election.”
Barr says (at 24:00) (i) he's proceeding with Durham investigation "during the elections season"; and (ii) "we are trying to get some things accomplished before the election" 1/https://t.co/9XmG83LVk4
— davidrlurie (@davidrlurie) August 13, 2020
Testifying before Congress last month, Barr would not commit to holding the results of Durham’s investigation until after the November election, but promised the department would be “very careful.” However, the attorney general has said that neither Obama nor Biden were under investigation.
“All right. Well, as I’ve said a few times, no one under investigation in the Durham matter is running for president,” Barr said. “And I’ve said publicly that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden are under investigation. And I’ve also said I’m committed to having the American people have a free choice in this election between the candidates and I don’t want the Department of Justice to be interfering in that.”
Barr previously said during a May press conference that he did not expect Biden or Obama to be charged; he said at the time that Durham’s criminal investigation was focused on others.
Thus, despite Trump’s increasing attempts to apply public pressure against Barr in hopes of pre-election indictments against Obama-era officials, Barr has indicated publicly that he will likely not acquiesce due to the facts and the law not leading to such conclusions.
Trump further suggests Barr should worry about his own legacy with paramount importance. But Barr himself in the Spring of 2019 said he didn’t care about what people might think of him.
“Everyone dies,” Barr famously said at the time. “I don’t care about my legacy . . . I’ll be dead.”
“I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that, you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?” Barr added.
Aaron Keller and Matt Naham contributed to this report.
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]