Nicole Goodkind is a political reporter at Newsweek
” Attorney General William Barr exonerated President Donald Trump of all wrong-doing in the Russia investigation last
month, and now he wants to take things a step further.
In a Senate hearing Wednesday, Barr suggested that the U.S. government had spied on Trump during his campaign and said that he would open another inquiry into the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr told senators. “I think spying did occur, yes,” because of a probable “failure among a group of leaders in the upper echelon” of the FBI.
Mueller delivered a nearly 400-page report last month with evidence that Russia had worked to influence the results of the 2016 election and that President Trump may have obstructed justice. Just days later, Barr released a four-page memo absolving the president of wrongdoing.
But yesterday Barr indicated that he not only wanted to
exculpate Trump of wrongdoing, he wanted to avenge him as well.
It’s an odd statement to make because the origins of Mueller’s probe are already well-known.
The FBI launched an investigation into the president’s campaign after their warnings of possible interference by Russia went ignored. The Department of Justice eventually started looking into some former Trump campaign staffers who had
suspicious contacts with Russian agents. Multiple judges signed off on those investigations.
There is no evidence that government agents were illegally
spying on the Trump campaign.
The “spying by the government” line is a conspiracy theory
that has been touted by the right and by President Trump’s own camp. In 2017, Kellyanne Conway suggested that former President Barack Obama had used microwaves to spy on
Still, the comments will most certainly please Barr’s boss,
who has repeatedly called the Mueller investigation a Democrat-driven witch hunt.
“Barr knows how counterintel investigations work. He knows there was ample evidence of Russian attempts to infiltrate the Trump campaign and that the FBI took lawful action to stop it,” Democratic Senator Mark Warner, ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted Wednesday. “Giving a wink and a nod to this long-debunked ‘spying’ conspiracy theory is irresponsible.”
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff questioned Barr’s fitness to serve at the Department of Justice. “I had deep concerns about him given how he got the job, but this is far worse than I would have imagined,” he told Politico.
Almost as soon as Barr made the comments, he attempted to walk them back.
“I have no specific evidence that I would cite right now,”
about spying Barr said during the hearing. “I do have
questions about it.” Barr said he had not set up a team to
investigate and that “I am not saying that improper
surveillance occurred. I am saying I am concerned about it and looking into it. I believe there is a basis for my
concern. But I’m not going to discuss the basis.”
(Hey, why not state your basis? Why should anyone accept the
statement “I am not going to discuss the basis”?
“I have no specific evidence that I would cite right now,” about spying Barr said during the hearing. “I do have questions
about it.” Barr said he had not set up a team to investigate and that “I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I
am saying I am concerned about it and looking into it.
I believe there is a basis for my concern.
But I’m not going to discuss the basis.”
Nicole Goodkind is a political reporter at Newsweek. You can reach her on Twitter @NicoleGoodkind or by email, N.Goodkind@newsweek.com.
This article, which quotes from Barr, reveals Barr’s principal
transparent and outrageous communication technique which he uses to obfuscate reality. He thinks it is fine to state some-
thing, as if it is true, and that he is “concerned about it”, and
“take it back” the next moment, as if
he didn’t really mean to say that it was actually true, thus not
taking responsibility for saying it. Obviously Barr thinks it is a
clever technique. It really is akin to some Trumpian tactics
we have written about. And in the end, when the only answer he can give defies credulity, he simply says “I am not going to
discuss that now”.
And finally, what is this “protecting the reputations of “peripheral third
parties”. So when we the see the blacked out pages containing references to Donald Trump, and children, you can be sure Barrs’ retort will be something like “I informed you that I would
protect the reputations of peripheral persons, remember?”
This was, after all an investigation into Russian interference,
and an uncharged persons’ reputation, who can
thus be deemed a “peripheral person” should not
be sullied. (We honestly hope this isn’t the case, but we wouldn’t be surprised.)
We believe that these tactics will expose Barr for who he really is,
an insufferable hack, but a very powerful one. But he has, at least twice,
outsmarted himself. He is just another emperor with no
A man, like Trump himself, who doesn’t understand the
outrage people have when you treat them like stupid fools,
thinking they will not grasp
these kindergarten tactics, is an even greater fool..