Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Timely Reminder: Bill Barr Is Still AG

I was listening to Lou Dobbs interview Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch just now. Fitton did a good job and he used a phrase that Bill Barr has used, as have I: Praetorian Guard. So I looked up my coverage of Barr's early interview with Jan Crawford. I was struck by how timely his remarks still are, and how they apply so well to the ongoing Impeachment Theater: Did You Know Bill Barr Is Attorney General? You Do Now. Here are some of the most relevant excerpts. The red highlighting is new and is intended to remind readers of the recent remarks by Chaffetz and Biggs (OIG Report: When, How Deep?) and of the Impeachment Theater in general. Barr's got an excellent handle on the Big Picture, and he also knows how all of DoJ, the Intel Community, the WH/NSC, Congress, and the Judical Branch work. In detail.


Q: What do you think of the FBI's response to claims of Russian meddling in the election?

WILLIAM BARR: ... Surely the response should have been more than just, you know, dangling a confidential informant in front of a peripheral player in the Trump Campaign.


[Lookin' at you, Comey!]

Q: Spying by the FBI--it's OK 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, republic, that we not allow government power, law enforcement or intelligence power, to play a role in politics, to intrude into politics, and affect elections.

... 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.

Q: Is that what happened in 2016?

WILLIAM BARR: Well, I just think it has to be carefully looked 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.

... 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.

... 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.

... 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. ...

Q: The Inspector General is looking at only a small part of this? The FISA warrant?

WILLIAM BARR: Yeah, I wouldn't say small but he's looking at a discrete area that is- that is you know, important, which is the use of electronic surveillance that was targeted at Carter Page.

Q: Why did you feel it was necessary to turn to John Durham?

WILLIAM BARR: Well the inspector general at the department, Mike Horowitz, who you know is a superb government official he has limited powers. He doesn't have the power to compel testimony, he doesn't have the power really to investigate beyond the current cast of characters at the Department of Justice. His ability to get information from former officials or from other agencies outside the department is very limited


And here's the Dobbs/Fitton interview--or part of it, anyway:

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