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Few Trump administration figures have been vilified by the left as much as Attorney General Bill Barr, but he’s a complete professional — as his two latest moves prove.
Barr revealed Tuesday that he’s made John Durham, the former US attorney he’d previously put in charge of examining the origins of the FBI “Russiagate” probe, a special counsel. That ensures a President Joe Biden can’t easily kill the investigation of serious Justice Department abuses.
The AG made the appointment Oct. 19 but kept it quiet so as not to be seen as interfering with the election. He said Tuesday he opted to use “the same regulation that covered Bob Mueller, to provide Durham and his team some assurance that they’d be able to complete their work regardless of the outcome of the election.”
Under that regulation, a special counsel can only be fired for specific reasons, such as dereliction of duty, misconduct or conflict of interest. Biden’s AG won’t be able to shut down the probe without some serious backlash.
Barr’s directive authorizes Durham to “investigate whether any federal official, employee, or any other person or entity violated the law in connection with the intelligence, counter-intelligence, or law-enforcement activities directed at the 2016 presidential campaigns, individuals associated with those campaigns, and individuals associated with the administration of President Donald J. Trump, including but not limited to Crossfire Hurricane and the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III.”
The AG also gave an update on Durham’s work: Its focus has narrowed to the conduct of the FBI agents who worked on Crossfire Hurricane, the Trump-Russia probe that began in July 2016 and didn’t end until March 2019, when Mueller reported he’d found no evidence of collusion.
But there’s plenty of evidence of misconduct — among the FBI investigators. A scathing report from Michael Horowitz, the Justice inspector general, documented some of it.
• Agents relied heavily on the known-to-be-discredited Steele dossier, full of made-up rumors, to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.
• Agents lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to get multiple warrants to monitor campaign adviser Carter Page — who they knew to be a CIA asset, not a Russian agent.
Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok were fired, and Durham has delivered one conviction so far: FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty for falsifying a document sent to the FISA court.
Democrats are bawling that Barr is simply doing the president’s bidding, but his other announcement shows he’s no toady: He firmly declined to push Trump’s stolen-election narrative. FBI agents and US attorneys have examined multiple complaints, he said, but: “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”
When Barr authorized prosecutors to investigate such complaints weeks ago, Biden’s team called it a “clumsy and cynical partisan political scheme.” In fact, Barr was just doing his job — and, as always, doing it with professionalism and class.
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