AG Barr Sends Warning to Deep State in Blunt CBS Interview: Govt Interference in Elections as Bad as Foreign
Attorney General William Barr warned the the anti-Trump Deep State he views government interference in elections to be just as bad as foreign interference. Barr also said that while he has the cooperation of the heads of the intelligence agencies in his investigation into the Trump investigation, he asked for and was given ultimate declassification authority by President Trump.
Barr spoke for almost an hour Thursday with CBS News reporter Jan Crawford for an interview in Alaska for an interview that aired Friday on CBS This Morning.
JAN CRAWFORD: You’re saying that spying occurred. There’s not anything necessarily wrong with that.
WILLIAM BARR: Right.
JAN CRAWFORD: As long as there’s a reason for it.
WILLIAM BARR: Whether it’s adequately predicated. And look, I think if we — we are worried about foreign influence in the campaign? We should be because the heart of our system is the peaceful transfer of power through elections and what gives the government legitimacy is that process. And if foreign elements can come in and affect it, that’s bad for the republic. But by the same token, it’s just as, it’s just as dangerous to the continuation of self-government and our republican system, republic that we not allow government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections.
JAN CRAWFORD: So it’s just as dangerous- So when we talk about foreign interference versus say a government abuse of power, which is more troubling?
WILLIAM BARR: Well they’re both, they’re both troubling.
JAN CRAWFORD: Equally?
WILLIAM BARR: In my mind, they are, sure. I mean, republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state. And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they’re there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official.
JAN CRAWFORD: And you are concerned that that may have happened in 2016?
WILLIAM BARR: Well, I just think it has to be carefully look at because the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign to me is unprecedented and it’s a serious red line that’s been crossed.
JAN CRAWFORD: Did that happen?
WILLIAM BARR: There were counterintelligence activities undertaken against the Trump Campaign. And I’m not saying there was not a basis for it, that it was legitimate, but I want to see what that basis was and make sure it was legitimate.
JAN CRAWFORD: So–
WILLIAM BARR: That’s one of the, you know, one of the key responsibilities of the Attorney General, core responsibilities of the Attorney General is to make sure that government power is not abused and that the right of Americans are not transgressed by abusive government power. That’s the responsibility of the Attorney General.
Crawford tried to dig in to Barr’s areas of concern, but he told very little. What he did say should concern those involved on the effort to take down Trump.
JAN CRAWFORD: What have you seen? What evidence? What makes you think, I need to take a look at this? I mean, what have you seen in the summer of 2016?
WILLIAM BARR: Well, I’ll say at this point is that it, you know, I- like many other people who are familiar with intelligence activities, I had a lot of questions about what was going on. I assumed I’d get answers when I went in and I have not gotten answers that are well satisfactory, and in fact probably have more questions, and that some of the facts that- that I’ve learned don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened.
JAN CRAWFORD: What do you mean by that?
WILLIAM BARR: That’s all I really will say. Things are just not jiving, and I’m not saying at this stage that–
JAN CRAWFORD: Was it a timeline?
WILLIAM BARR: There was a timeline, there’s some timeline–
JAN CRAWFORD: I mean, there’s a concern that this may have happened before we realized that the investigation was initiated in July. I mean, what…
WILLIAM BARR: I don’t want to get into those details at this point. I would just say that, you know…
JAN CRAWFORD: But you said there’s a timeline concern.
WILLIAM BARR: Well I won’t, I won’t confirm that, but I’ll just say that, you know, there’s some questions that I think have to be answered, and I have a basis for feeling there has to be a review of this.
JAN CRAWFORD: You’ve said, you’ve said the time frame between the election and the inauguration, you’ve said this publicly, was kind of strange. Some strange things may have happened. What concerns you there? Specifically, the meeting at Trump Tower.
WILLIAM BARR: I don’t want to- I don’t want to get into that.
Crawford asked Barr about the declassification order by President Trump. Barr said he asked for the authority and that he has the final say over declassification over the the intelligence community.
WILLIAM BARR: Well it might be legit under certain circumstances but a lot of that has to do with how good the evidence was at that point. And you know Mueller has spent two and half years and the fact is there is no evidence of a conspiracy. So it was bogus, this whole idea that the Trump was in cahoots with the Russians is bogus
JAN CRAWFORD: So did you ask the president for authority to declassify?
WILLIAM BARR: Yes.
JAN CRAWFORD: You asked the president?
WILLIAM BARR: Yes and also you know, the direction of the intelligence agencies to support our efforts.
JAN CRAWFORD: So did you discuss this with the DNI and head of the CIA?
WILLIAM BARR: Yes.
JAN CRAWFORD: And what’s their response?
WILLIAM BARR: That they’re going to be supportive.
JAN CRAWFORD: And so you won’t will you declassify things without reviewing it with them it seems like you have the authority to do that?
WILLIAM BARR: Well in an exceptional circumstance I have that authority but obviously I intend to consult with them. I’m amused by these people who make a living by disclosing classified information, including the names of intelligence operatives, wringing their hands about whether I’m going to be responsible in protecting intelligence sources and methods. I’ve been in the business as I’ve said for over 50 years long before they were born and I know how to handle classified information and I believe strongly in protecting intelligence sources and methods. But at the same time if there is information that can be shared with the American people without jeopardizing intelligence sources and methods that decision should be made and because I will be involved in finding out what the story was I think I’m in the best decision (sic) to make that decision.
CBS has posted the interview online. Links in this tweet:
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) May 31, 2019