Attorney General said the FBI's Russian collusion counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign was one of the "greatest travesties in American history." In an interview with FNC's Laura Ingraham, Barr said the investigation was started "without any basis" and what happened after the election was a pattern of events "to sabotage the presidency."
"The president is very frustrated, I think you obviously know that – about Andrew McCabe, and he believes that people like McCabe and others were able to basically flout laws and so far with impunity," Ingraham said to Barr.
"I think the president has every right to be frustrated, because I think what happened to him was one of the greatest travesties in American history," Barr said. "Without any basis they started this investigation of his campaign, and even more concerning, actually is what happened after the campaign, a whole pattern of events while he was president. So I -- to sabotage the presidency, and I think that – or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency."
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Last week, I believe you urged consideration of the federal inmate population given the coronavirus. Where does that stand now, given the concerns about the spread of the virus inside state prisons and obviously federal facilities?
ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: You know, we’re taking – we’re not going to open our prisons and let prisoners go free. Our – generally, our mission is to protect the public, and we’re not going to do anything that’s contrary to that. But where we find a prisoner who is vulnerable because of their age and their medical condition that has served a substantial part of their sentence, that has not been convicted for a violent crime or a sexual crime, does not pose a threat to the community, we’re using every tool we have to put them in home confinement, provided we think home confinement will not be more dangerous than staying where they are and also after a quarantine period where we can ensure that they’re not taking the disease into the public.
LAURA: You have been criticized recently for focusing on the drug cartels during the COVID virus. We’ll play a little bit of that criticism.
MONTAGE FROM MSNBC: CHUCK TODD: this issue of drug cartels / it doesn't feel like that is the front line concern of every American right now.
/ SHANNON PETTYPIECE: it might have seemed like an odd thing to be talking about drug cartels / KRISTEN WELKER: it’s not top of mind for the health care workers who are on the front lines of this, chuck, and for so many Americans
BARR: Well, it might come as a surprise to some of these people that the federal government, the Justice Department specifically, has 115,000 people who are dedicated to protecting the public safety, including preventing narcotics trafficking, and we’re actually able to do more than one thing at a time, and we’re handling different kinds of cases. Maybe fraud is not on the top of their mind, but we still police fraud. // it’s very interesting because drugs kill 70,000 Americans a year, 70,000 a year. And it’s poison, and we have to make sure that during this period the cartels are not taking advantage of the United States and pumping this poison up into the United States.
LAURA: And the border’s getting tougher to penetrate now. And so, they’re coming in via boat and navigable waterways to get into the United States.
BARR: Right, and they’re relying more on boats to bring the cocaine up from South America, up for further transportation into the United States. And so the Justice Department can do more than one thing at once, and I’m amused whenever I see Barr has intervened in this case or Barr has done such and such at the time of the COVID crisis. Business for the Department of Justice has to continue.
LAURA: John Brennan has come out smashing the president’s firing of Inspector General Michael Atkinson, let’s listen.
JOHN BRENNAN//MSNBC: by removing atkinson and sending a signal to others, mr. trump continues to show his insecurity in terms of trying to stop anybody who's going to expose, again the lawlessness that i think he not only has allowed to continue but also that he abets
BARR: I think the president did the right thing in removing Atkinson. From the vantage point of the Department of Justice, he had interpreted his statute, which is a fairly narrow statute, that gave him jurisdiction over wrongdoing by Intelligence people, and tried to turn it in to a commission to explore anything in the government and immediately reported to Congress without letting the Executive Branch look at it and determine whether there was any problem. He was told this in a letter from the Department of Justice, and he is obliged to follow the interpretation of the Department of Justice, and he ignored it. So I think the president was correct in firing him.
LAURA: And it’s the second inspector general he’s fired since the beginning of this pandemic, and of course that’s used to say, well the president just doesn’t want a watchdog.
BARR: Well, I don’t think that’s true, I think he wants responsible watchdogs.
LAURA: What can you tell us about the state of John Durham’s investigation? People have been waiting for the final report on what happened with this -
BARR: Well, I think a report maybe – and probably will be a byproduct of his activity, but his primary focus isn’t to prepare a report. He is looking to bring to justice people who are engaged in abuses if he can show that they were criminal violations, and that’s what the focus is on. And as you know, being a lawyer you yourself, building these cases – especially the kinds of sprawling case we have between us that went on for two or three years here, it takes some time – it takes some time to build the case. So he’s diligently pursuing it. My own view is that the evidence shows that we’re not dealing with just mistakes or sloppiness. There is something far more troubling here, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it. And if people broke the law, and we can establish that with the evidence, they will be prosecuted.
LAURA: The president is very frustrated, I think you obviously know that – about Andrew McCabe, and he believes that people like McCabe and others were able to basically flout laws and so far with impunity.
BARR: I think the president has every right to be frustrated, because I think what happened to him was one of the greatest travesties in American history. Without any basis they started this investigation of his campaign, and even more concerning, actually is what happened after the campaign, a whole pattern of events while he was president. So I -- to sabotage the presidency, and I think that – or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency.
INGRAHAM: Will FISA abuses really be prevented going forward given what happened here, where FISA judges are not given critical pieces of information, material facts about evidence that inform the government’s OK-ing the surveillance of American citizens?
BARR: You know, I think it’s possible to put in a regime that would make it very hard either to willfully circumvent FISA, or to do so sloppily without due regard for the rights of the American person involved. And also to make it very clear that any misconduct will be discovered and discovered fairly promptly. So I do think we can put in safeguards that will enable us to go forward with this important tool. I think it’s very sad -- and the people who abused FISA have a lot to answer for, because this was an important tool to protect the American people. They abused it, they undercut public confidence in FISA but also the FBI as an institution, and we have to rebuild that