Trump lashes out at Barr after realizing inquiry into Russia probe won't be public before election
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump has fought both publicly and privately against Attorney General William Barr after determining that the Justice Department's investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation should not be released before Election Day, US officials said TODAY.
Trump has been stepping up his criticism of Barr in recent days as he tries to make the origins of the Russia inquiry a major electoral issue. The president has long viewed the Russia investigation as a political joke designed to undermine him, calling for charges against his political enemies, including former President Barack Obama and former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
But Barr has previously said that neither Obama nor Biden will be prosecuted despite the president claiming his predecessor committed criminal offenses. Administrative officials also said Trump is aware that such charges are unlikely.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr in a 2019 photo.
While recovering from contracting coronavirus, Trump publicly pressured his attorney general.
"Unless Bill Barr charges these people for crimes, the greatest political crime in our country's history, we will be little satisfied if I win," Trump told Fox Business News on Thursday.
Trump has expressed similar feelings privately, two administrative officials said, speaking of private conversations on condition of anonymity.
A Justice Department spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for John Durham, the Connecticut attorney general who Barr tapped last year to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation and FBI surveillance activities, declined to comment.
The Russia investigation, which the FBI began in 2016 and which special adviser Robert Mueller took over in 2017, threw a dark cloud over much of Trump's presidency and led to indictments against half a dozen former aides and staff. Mueller's investigation found that Russia interfered in the president's final race to help Trump win. Members of the Trump campaign were avid beneficiaries of these efforts, although Müller's team found no evidence of a conspiracy with the Kremlin.
So far, the Durham investigation has led to charges.
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Former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty last summer to forging an email supporting surveillance of former Trump election worker Carter Page during the early months of the Russia investigation. Clinesmith, who had worked for the FBI for four years, modified an email that investigators relied on to justify a bugging request. The modified email indicated that Page was "not a source" for the Central Intelligence Agency. The original email from the CIA stated otherwise.
Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have been eagerly awaiting Durham's full results, and Barr told Fox News last summer that there would be "significant developments" ahead of the November 3rd election.
However, White House staff said Trump was aware that there would be no Durham report or further charges before November, partly due to the informal Department of Justice's policy against sensitive legal action too soon before election day. Aides said Trump and Barr discussed aspects of the Durham probe, but they don't know the details of those discussions.
During the interview with Fox News, Trump claimed Durham had already gathered enough evidence.
John Durham explores the origins of the FBI's investigation into Russian electoral influence.
"I don't know what happened to Durham, but we're going to find out what happened to Durham, but he's got so much stuff," Trump said.
Speaking to radio host Rush Limbaugh, Trump was asked about media reports Friday that Barr had told Republicans there would be no Durham report before the election.
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"If that's the case, I'll be very disappointed. I think it's a terrible thing and I'll tell him in the face," Trump said of Barr.
Proponents who view Trump's print campaign and Durham investigation as a re-election tactic are watching the president closely.
"Donald Trump has used his administration time and again to support his re-election campaign, from propaganda videos to undermining postal votes," said Jordan Libowitz, Washington Citizens Spokesperson for Responsibility and Ethics. "But he has done nothing more outrageous than pressuring the Justice Department to investigate and press charges against his political enemies."
The Justice Department Inspector General concluded that the FBI was authorized to investigate interference in Russian elections and possible links to the Trump campaign, but found that Page's surveillance was fraught with errors and misrepresentation.
The GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee, which has conducted its own investigations into Russia, has also published extensive reports supporting Mueller's findings on Russian interference.
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: Donald Trump frustrated by investigating William Barr's Russia investigation
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