Attorney General William Barr said Monday he does not expect U.S. Attorney John Durham’s review into the origins of the Russia probe to result in criminal investigations into President Obama or Vice President Biden, warning that "not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime."
"Now, what happened to the president... in the 2016 election was abhorrent, it was a grave injustice and it was unprecedented in American history," Barr said during a press conference Monday morning. "The law enforcement and intelligence apparatus of this country were involved in advancing a fake and utterly baseless Russian collusion narrative against the president. The proper investigative and prosecutorial standards of the Justice Department were abused in order to reach a particular result."
Barr was asked about Obamagate, President Trump's new term for long-running allegations that the Obama Justice Department inappropriately used counterintelligence tools to surveil the 2016 Trump campaign and transition team. Barr agreed with the general premise of the president's allegations but said "this can not be a tit for tat exercise," "we are not going to lower the standards to achieve a result. The only way to break this vicious cycle and step away from a dual system of justice is to make sure we scrupulously apply a single and proper standard of Justice for everybody."
"As for the current and forthcoming status of the Durham probe? I have a general idea of how Mr. Durham’s investigation is going," Barr said. "I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man [Obama or Biden]... Our potential for criminality is focused on others."
"Tihs upcoming election will be conducted without this kind of interference," he also said. "We cannot allow this process to be hijacked by efforts to drum up criminal investigations of either candidate... Any effort to pursue an investigation of either candidate has to be approved by me."
Unofficial rush transcript of Barr's remarks by me: pic.twitter.com/OsDfJn59tT— Max Kutner (@maxkutner) May 18, 2020