Attorney General William Barr said Monday that he did not expect the prosecutor he handpicked to review the 2016 FBI investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign would investigate former president Barack Obama or former vice president Joe Biden – an assertion that is likely to dismay Trump and his conservative allies.
Barr’s comment came at a news conference to discuss last year’s shooting at a U.S. military base in Pensacola, Florida. A reporter asked about Trump’s suggesting publicly in recent weeks that top officials in the Obama administration, including the former president, had committed crimes.
While noting he was not taking aim at Trump’s comments specifically, Barr lambasted what he called the “increasing attempts to use the criminal justice system as a political weapon.”
“The legal tactic has been to gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories,” Barr said. “This is not a good development.”
He then specifically dismissed the idea that U.S. Attorney John Durham – who has been probing how the FBI handled the 2016 investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election – would look at Obama or Biden.
“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”
He declined to say who Durham was focused on.
(c) 2020, The Washington Post · Matt Zapotosky