Barr ‘Eroding Confidence’ in FBI, say Critics

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Attorney General William Barr dramatically intensified his attacks on the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign, asserting that the bureau opened the probe without good reason, pursued it after it collapsed and might have acted in bad faith, the Washington Post reports. In media interviews, Barr launched a broadside against predecessors who handled one of the most sensitive investigations in FBI history. He rejected an assessment from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that the case was opened with appropriate cause, not out of political animus. Those inside the Justice Department worried he might be undercutting faith in federal law enforcement to please the president. Matthew Axelrod, a Justice Department official in the Obama administration, called Barr’s remarks “a shockingly inappropriate departure from normal.”

“I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press,” Barr told NBC. “I think there were gross abuses … and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI.” Barr said the final word would come from John Durham, the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut whom he selected to perform a similar review. Barr “is bringing to bear … a perspective on the law that the president is all-powerful and should be able to do pretty much whatever he wants,” said Donald Ayer, who preceded Barr as deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration. Barr “seems a lot more of a Kool-Aid drinker than I expected,” said one Justice Department employee. “Once you start eroding public confidence in the bureau, that’s got an impact on our ability to get convictions in our cases.”

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