It’s the question that has dominated politics for more than two years — what exactly happened with counterintelligence activities conducted during the 2016 election and the Russia probe.
Now, in his first interview since joining the Trump administration, Attorney General Bill Barr detailed how he plans to get to the bottom of the origins of the probe, his thoughts on James Comey, Robert Mueller and other issues related to the special counsel’s investigation.
Barr told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer in the interview Friday that one portion of the review — which he has tapped U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead — would cover the time period between Election Day and Inauguration Day, saying “some very strange developments” took place during that time.
Barr specifically was referring to the early January 2017 briefing intelligence officials gave then-president-elect Trump at Trump Tower, and “the leaking of information subsequent to that meeting.”
At that meeting, Trump was briefed by intelligence and law enforcement officials on Russian election meddling — and was also informed by former FBI Director James Comey about the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier which included salacious allegations against him. Details later leaked to the press.
Barr also said the country must know “exactly what happened” with counterintelligence activities conducted during the 2016 election — and he is determined to get to the bottom of the case.
In pointed terms, he fired back at Democrats who have castigated him over his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report — calling Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s charge that he lied to Congress “laughable” and dismissing an attempt to hold him in contempt of Congress.
“That’s part of the usual … political circus that’s being played out. It doesn’t surprise me,” he said.
And the nation’s top law enforcement official provided new details about the recently announced probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, defending his decision to pursue it and stressing that many of the answers he’s gotten so far have been “inadequate.”
While the decision to look back at the origins of the investigation has prompted harsh criticism from Democrats who previously have accused him of acting as the president’s lawyer, Barr argued there’s much yet to learn.
“I think there’s a misconception out there that we know a lot about what happened,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is Bob Mueller did not look at the government’s activities. He was looking at whether or not the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russians. But he was not going back and looking at the counterintelligence program. And we have a number of investigations underway that touch upon it — the main one being the office of inspector general that’s looking at the FISA warrants.”
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.