Former Attorney General William Barr reportedly blasted The New York Times for its critical coverage of special counsel John Durham’s inquiry into alleged wrongdoing in the Trump-Russia investigation.
Barr broke his silence Wednesday after making a speech in Sacramento, California, to a reporter. He disputed parts of an article published last week that detailed apparent flaws with Durham’s attempt.
Barr nominated then-U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut Durham to examine the origins and conduct of the FBI investigation into suspected links between former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia in May 2019, shortly after special counsel Robert Mueller issued his report. In the last months of the Trump administration, Barr promoted Durham to special counsel position, providing Durham more safeguards to continue his work until President Joe Biden assumed office.
The article, published on January 26 by the New York Times claimed that the Durham probe was commissioned under flimsy premises and became embroiled in internal disputes.
Barr responded to the allegations in his characteristically sharp manner, saying “The idea that there was a thin basis for doing it doesn’t hold water. Because it wasn’t started as a criminal investigation. One of the duties of the attorney general is to protect against the abuse of criminal and intelligence powers, that they’re not abused to impinge on political activity, so I felt it was my duty to find out what happened there.”
Durham has so far only obtained one guilty plea: that of former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was accused of fabricating a document in order to extend the permission to conduct FISA monitoring on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor.
Barr has a long and storied history in Washington.
In 1989, he was nominated by President Bush to serve as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, and then was later nominated to serve as Attorney General in 1991.
As Attorney General, Barr was instrumental in the administration’s efforts to reduce crime and was an advocate for strong law enforcement.
After leaving the government in 1993, Barr returned to the private sector and worked as a corporate attorney. In 2018, he was asked by President Trump to serve as Attorney General again, and he was confirmed by the Senate in February 2019.
On December 23, 2020, Barr resigned as Attorney General, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
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