Yesterday, we wondered whether Laura Ingraham’s teaser from her interview with Attorney General William Barr might have left out some context. It actually might have undersold Barr’s comments on Operation Crossfire Hurricane and US Attorney John Durham’s probe into the FBI and intelligence agencies. The Fox News host asked Barr when we could expect to see Durham’s report, and Barr replied that he’s not sure there will be a report.
So what will Durham produce? Indictments, apparently:
Barr wouldn’t tell Ingraham how far Durham had advanced in the investigation, but said it was a “sprawling case” that “takes some time” to fully investigate.
“I think a report may be and probably will be a byproduct of his activity but his primary focus isn’t to prepare a report. He is looking to bring to justice people who were engaged in abuses if he can show that they were criminal violations and that’s what the focus is on,” Barr told Ingraham. …
Barr argued that the FBI investigation into Trump’s presidential campaign was riddled with abuse of power and had no evidence to back it up. He did not mention the intelligence that prompted the investigation, including a Trump campaign adviser boasting that he knew Russia had damaging information on then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I think the president has every right to be frustrated because I think what happened to him was one of the greatest travesties in American history,” Barr said. “Without any basis, they started this investigation of his campaign and even more concerning actually is what happened after the campaign, a whole pattern of events while he was president.”
Politico comments that Trump supporters hoped for a report to use in the election, but indictments wouldn’t be a terribly disappointing substitute, I’d guess. They form a narrative as well — as Robert Mueller himself employed in that farcical indictment of Concord Management that blew up in his face when they demanded discovery access. The Department of Justice had to withdraw the indictment last month in order to avoid allowing the Russian-controlled firm access to the intel on which the indictment was based.
That outcome must have alerted John Durham to the dangers of PR-focused indictments. It’s safer just to issue reports, another lesson also learned by Mueller and his special-counsel team. If Durham is focusing on criminal violations and “bring[ing] to justice” those who committed them, that hints that Durham thinks he’s got enough to go all the way to trial — assuming we see any indictments. It’s tough to imagine Barr selling this on national television at this late stage of the probe, though, without knowing what Durham plans and what he has up his sleeve.
Be sure to watch the full interview, especially the beginning, in which Ingraham peppers Barr on the shutdown of places of worship in the Great Hunkering Down. Ingraham argues, somewhat indirectly, that religious services should be exempted on the basis of the inalienable right to freedom of religious expression. Barr doesn’t necessarily disagree but argues that government can shut down churches in an emergency if they’re shutting down nearly everything else. Barr tells Ingraham that the DoJ had to remind several jurisdictions to remain neutral in that application, but that he anticipates that this won’t last long in any case.
Also, Barr declares that the coronavirus should give everyone a new appreciation of borders. The Europeans certainly are discovering that to be the case, and Barr argues Americans should rethink any inclination to open borders as well.