Spying yes, treason no, gross bias yes 19

In this video there is rather too much chat by the CBS people about what Attorney General Barr said and why, and too little of Barr speaking for himself. But we post it for what Barr says between 3 minutes and 3.47 minutes about the importance of not destroying our institutions, and that it is not President Trump who is doing that but his accusers.

 

Here are some more extracts from the interview. You can read the whole of it here.

JAN CRAWFORD: You have testified that you believe spying occurred.

WILLIAM BARR: Yes.

JAN CRAWFORD: Into the Trump campaign.

WILLIAM BARR: Yes.

JAN CRAWFORD: You’ve gotten some criticism for using that word.

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, I mean, I guess it’s become a dirty word somehow. It hasn’t ever been for me. I think there is nothing wrong with spying, the question is always whether it is authorized by law and properly predicated and if it is, then it’s an important tool the United States has to protect the country.

JAN CRAWFORD: On using the word, I mean, do you understand, and I know that some of the, some former intelligence chiefs have said that the president has made that word somewhat pejorative, that there is spying, this is a witch hunt, this is a hoax, and so your use of that word makes it seem that you are being a loyalist.

WILLIAM BARR: You know, it’s part of the craziness of the modern day that if a president uses a word, then all of a sudden it becomes off bounds. It’s a perfectly good English word, I will continue to use it.

JAN CRAWFORD: You’re saying that spying occurred. There’s not anything necessarily wrong with that.

WILLIAM BARR: Right.

JAN CRAWFORD: As long as there’s a reason for it.

WILLIAM BARR: Whether it’s adequately predicated. And look, I think if we – we are worried about foreign influence in the campaign? We should be because the heart of our system is the peaceful transfer of power through elections and what gives the government legitimacy is that process. And if foreign elements can come in and affect it, that’s bad for the republic. But by the same token, it’s just as, it’s just as dangerous to the continuation of self-government and our republican system that we not allow government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections.

JAN CRAWFORD: So it’s just as dangerous – So when we talk about foreign interference versus say a government abuse of power, which is more troubling?

WILLIAM BARR: Well they’re both, they’re both troubling.

JAN CRAWFORD: Equally?

WILLIAM BARR: In my mind, they are, sure. I mean, republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state. And you know, there is that tendency that they know better and that, you know, they’re there to protect as guardians of the people. That can easily translate into essentially supervening the will of the majority and getting your own way as a government official.

JAN CRAWFORD: And you are concerned that that may have happened in 2016?

WILLIAM BARR: Well, I just think it has to be carefully look at because the use of foreign intelligence capabilities and counterintelligence capabilities against an American political campaign to me is unprecedented and it’s a serious red line that’s been crossed.

JAN CRAWFORD: Did that happen?

WILLIAM BARR: There were counterintelligence activities undertaken against the Trump Campaign. And I’m not saying there was not a basis for it, that it was legitimate, but I want to see what that basis was and make sure it was legitimate. The attorney general’s responsibility is to make sure that these powers are not used to tread upon first amendment activity and that certainly was a big part of my formative years of dealing with those issues. The fact that today people just seem to brush aside the idea that it is okay to you know, to engage in these activities against a political campaign is stunning to me especially when the media doesn’t seem to think that it’s worth looking into. They’re supposed to be the watchdogs of, you know, our civil liberties.

JAN CRAWFORD: So –

WILLIAM BARR: That’s one of the, you know, one of the key responsibilities of the Attorney General, core responsibilities of the Attorney General is to make sure that government power is not abused and that the right of Americans are not transgressed by abusive government power. That’s the responsibility of the Attorney General.

JAN CRAWFORD: You know the – I guess – we’ve spent the last two years or more talking about and hearing about Russian interference into the elections and what occurred there. And so now we’re shifting to talking about actually investigating, reviewing that investigation and the people who did that. So I guess in making this turn can you help us understand, I mean what’s – what is the concern? What have you seen, what’s the basis for that?

WILLIAM BARR: Well I don’t want to  get you know, too much into the facts because it’s still under review. But I think it’s important to understand what basis there was for launching counterintelligence activities against a political campaign, which is the core of our second amendment – I’m sorry, the core of our first amendment liberties in this country. And what was the predicate for it? What was the hurdle that had to be crossed? What was the process – who had to approve it? And including the electronic surveillance, whatever electronic surveillance was done. And was everyone operating in their proper lane? And I’ve selected a terrific career prosecutor from the department who’s been there over thirty years, he’s now the U.S. attorney.

WILLIAM BARR: But he has, over the years, been used by both Republican and Democratic attorney generals to investigate these kinds of activities. And he’s always gotten the most laudatory feedback from his work. So there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going – he’s going to conduct a thorough and fair review of this. And we’re working closely with the intelligence agencies, the bureau and the agency and others to help us reconstruct what happened. And I want to see, what were the standards that were applied. What was the evidence? What were the techniques used? Who approved them? Was there a legitimate basis for it?

JAN CRAWFORD: Okay. Yes. … Obviously you’ve seen this like the people are raising concerns that this is going to undermine FBI morale. The rank and file – what are we saying here – but you said in recent Senate testimony, “this is not launching an investigation of the FBI frankly to the extent there were any issues at the FBI, I do not view it as a problem that’s endemic to the FBI. I think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders there at the upper echelon.”

WILLIAM BARR: That’s right.

JAN CRAWFORD: So there was probably a failure among a group of leaders there at the upper echelon?

WILLIAM BARR: Correct. In other words, I don’t believe this is a problem you know, rife through the bureau.

JAN CRAWFORD: What suggests to you there was a failure in the upper echelon at the FBI?

WILLIAM BARR: Because I think the activities were undertaken by a small group at the top which is one of the – probably one of the mistakes that has been made instead of running this as a normal bureau investigation or counterintelligence investigation. It was done by the executives at the senior level. Out of head quarters –

JAN CRAWFORD: And you’re talking about James Comey, McCabe?

WILLIAM BARR: I’m just not going to get into the individual names at this point. But I just view that – I don’t view it as a bureau wide issue. And I will say the same thing for other intelligence agencies. And they’re being very cooperative in helping us.

JAN CRAWFORD: They’re being cooperative?

WILLIAM BARR: Yes.

JAN CRAWFORD: You’re working with the DNI, the head of CIA. I want to ask you about something – just declassification. But the president has tweeted and said publicly that some in the upper echelon, Comey, McCabe, etc., committed treason. I mean do you agree with that?

WILLIAM BARR: Well, I – as a lawyer I always interpret the word treason not colloquially but legally. And you know the very specific criteria for treason – so I don’t think it’s actually implicated in the situation that we have now. But I think what he —

JAN CRAWFORD: Legally.

WILLIAM BARR: Right.

JAN CRAWFORD: You don’t think that they’ve committed treason?

WILLIAM BARR: Not as a legal matter, no.

JAN CRAWFORD: But you have concerns about how they conducted the investigation?

WILLIAM BARR: Yes, but you know, when you’re dealing with official government contact, intent is frequently a murky issue. I’m not suggesting that people did what they did necessarily because of conscious, nefarious motives. Sometimes people can convince themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good. They don’t realize that what they’re doing is really antithetical to the democratic system that we have. They start viewing themselves as the guardians of the people that are more informed and insensitive than everybody else. They can – in their own mind, they can have those kinds of motives. And sometimes they can look at evidence and facts through a biased prism that they themselves don’t realize. That something objectively as applied as a neutral principle across the board really you know, shouldn’t be the standard used in the case but because they have a particular bias they don’t see that. So that’s why procedures and standards are important and review afterward is an important way of making sure that government power is being conscientiously and properly applied. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there are people – you know, that people have crossed lines have done so with corrupt intent or anything like that.

JAN CRAWFORD: But it seems like you have a concern that there may have been a bias by top officials in the FBI as they looked at whether to launch and conduct this investigation?

WILLIAM BARR: Well it’s hard to read some of the texts with and not feel that there was gross bias at work and they’re appalling. And if the shoe were on the other–

JAN CRAWFORD: Appalling.

WILLIAM BARR: Those were appalling. And on their face they were very damning and I think if the shoe was on the other foot we could be hearing a lot about it. If those kinds of discussions were held you know when Obama first ran for office, people talking about Obama in those tones and suggesting that “Oh that he might be a Manchurian candidate for Islam or something like that”. You know some wild accusations like that and you had that kind of discussion back and forth, you don’t think we would be hearing a lot more about it?

JAN CRAWFORD: You – I guess when you said that there were things done that were not the typical run of business, ad hoc, small group, it’s not how these counterintelligence operations normally work. I  think that maybe Comey and others might say well this was such an extraordinary thing we had to keep it so closely held. So we had to do it differently what’s your response to that? Is that legit?

WILLIAM BARR: Well it might be legit under certain circumstances but a lot of that has to do with how good the evidence was at that point. And you know Mueller has spent two and half years and the fact is there is no evidence of a conspiracy. So it was bogus, this whole idea that the Trump was in cahoots with the Russians is bogus. …

JAN CRAWFORD: I know you’ve seen some of the criticism and the push back on this. Do you have any concerns that doing this investigation, talking about de-classifying certain materials – that that’s undermining your credibility or the credibility of the department?

WILLIAM BARR: No I – I don’t. I think it’s – actually the reaction is somewhat strange. I mean normally–

JAN CRAWFORD: Strange?

WILLIAM BARR: Sure.

JAN CRAWFORD: Their reaction?

WILLIAM BARR: Well the media reaction is strange. Normally the media would be interested in letting the sunshine in and finding out what the truth is. And usually the media doesn’t care that much about protecting intelligence sources and methods. But I do and I will. …

Posted under corruption, Crime, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, June 1, 2019

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