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Attorney General William Barr dared to use the “s-word.”

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

He said in congressional testimony that the Trump campaign had been spied on by the U.S. government. Pressed by incredulous Senate Democrats, he clarified: “I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated.”

“Spying” has a negative connotation, so perhaps “surveilling” would be the better way to put it. But a key question is indeed whether there was “improper surveillance” of the campaign, as Barr stated at another point in the hearing.

Barr is committed to reviewing the conduct of the Russia investigation, which is getting denounced as an outrage by his critics. But why shouldn’t the attorney general seek to understand his department’s role in the high-stakes investigative melodrama of the past two years?

The Mueller probe was a national trauma. Its boosters didn’t experience it as such, of course. They enjoyed it and played it up and hoped for the very worst.

But it cast a shadow over the White House, occupied an inordinate share of the nation’s political attention and saddled innocent people with large legal bills.

And for what? To establish that the far-fetched theory that the Russians coordinated with the Trump campaign indeed wasn’t true, and to take a pass on pronouncing one way or the other whether President Donald Trump allegedly obstructed justice?

You don’t have to be a deep-state conspiracy theorist to want to know how this got started and why.

We should try to find out as reliably as possible how much FBI and other officials were legitimately freaked out by some of the Russia connections of Trump associates, and how much they were acting in an amateurish panic and out of partisan malice.

How was it that a garbage anti-Trump dossier gathered by an ex-foreign spy from shadowy Russian sources came to set so much of the media narrative about the Russia probe, and evidently have an outsize influence on the thinking and the actions of the FBI?

It may be that without the dossier, there wouldn’t have been a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against Carter Page. Barr is surely at least thinking of Page when he talks of spying. It’s true that the FISA warrant on Page was approved after he had left the campaign, but the surveillance would have extended both forward and backward in time, to likely include campaign communications.

And the FBI obviously had the campaign in mind. It wrote in the FISA application, “The FBI believes that the Russian government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page & perhaps other individuals associated with [Trump’s] campaign.”

How was it that the FBI opened an investigation against the president when he fired its director? And why did it apparently think it could make an obstruction of justice case against Trump for acting within his lawful powers?

In the aftermath of the firing of James Comey, why did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoint Robert Mueller, in part, to investigate the cashiering of Comey that he was party to, and without specifying the crime that the president was being investigated for, as required under the special counsel regulation?

The appointment of Mueller was so momentous because once you have a special counsel, even a highly professional one, you have an investigative beast roaming the landscape that will inevitably command an enormous amount of attention and find crimes to prosecute even if they are removed from his original charge.

Of course, this is one of the reasons why Mueller had such fervent support among Trump’s detractors. But there is no reason that Barr should share their assumptions, or their horror at the idea of finding out more about the investigation that they portrayed as the single most important event in American public life.

Maybe the “s-word” is indeed too pejorative. By getting as much information out publicly about the roots of the Russia probe, Barr can let people decide for themselves.

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Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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(71) comments

new2Lax

Now I suppose your going to tell me there’s no Easter Bunny, what next, after 4 FISA warrants on Carter Page he is still going to jail for collusion with the Russians. Wait a minute, I guess the Mueller report cleared him of all things Russian.

new2Lax

It sounds like you are unaware of Eric Holder’s contempt charge. When Congress requested the documents on “Fast and Furious” Holder refused and asked Obama to declare executive privilege and I believe he was criminally and civilly charged with contempt of Congress. He tried to protect Obama’s involvement in knowing about the gun running and the cartels involvement. A true wingman.

new2Lax

Homey, are you aware of the Eric Holder contempt of Congress. If not, educate yourself on that first. No need to discuss something you apparently are unaware of.

new2Lax

Homey, why was Eric Holder charged with Contempt of Congress,, or is this one of the issues you are unaware of. This is no small thing and he took the rap to protect, guess who.

martian2

more whataboutisms from new2. tiring, very tiring.

oldhomey

Well, don't be too harsh on new2, martian. He is only passing on the talking points he picks up from Hannity et al.

new2Lax

You know without a shadow of a doubt, it didn’t come from NPR & PBS, they can not be trusted. Like I mentioned before, the CEO’S admitted their liberal bias and that only leaves the fair and balanced network.

oldhomey

The "fair and balanced" network? Are you going to get up real early this Sunday morning, new2, to try to FINALLY get a glimpse of this bunny that comes around once a year delivering candies to you in a basket?

new2Lax

Does anyone on these posts think Mueller has not seen Trumps taxes to see if there was any Russian connection.

new2Lax

Homey, you know the most amazing thing you said was just the fact you didn’t know what Eric Holder actually said. You are still incredibly stupid or living under a rock. How do you even dare post comments with your limited knowledge of events. I suspect most by their rebuttals are on to you but it still baffles even me a crack HR guy of a fortune 300 company. I toy with you and it’s kind of fun, I wished I could have had more opportunities to banter with folks, wouldn’t have been prudent but it would have been fun. Anyway as I have indicated before, you sir are an idiot.

oldhomey

Gosh! I never realized I was being toyed with by you, new2. I feel SO used! Is that even legal, to TOY with people? If this is your idea of bantering with people, by the way, I would not regret it, if I were you, that you didn't take the time to banter back in the day. It certainly would not have been prudent, being as obtuse as you seem to be.

new2Lax

Has Trumps tax returns requested yet, if so, hows that going. When do you suppose Steve Manuchin will go to prison. Do we have a time line on that.

oldhomey

Another beautiful, impossible-to-understand comment from the most communication-challenged crack HR man for a Fortune 300 company ever to have tried and failed to express himself. You certainly give a bad name to corporate life if you are telling the truth about your alleged career, new2.

Climatehoax

Great post, the libs have been on the wrong side since Trump announced he was running for president. If they were a blind pig, I don’t think there’d EVER find an acorn. Wrong wrong wrong

oldhomey

And Climate chimes in with a comment nearly as semi-literate as one of new2's posts. What a duo.

new2Lax

Thank you, my comments on you seem to be right on. I mentioned this before but you again were unaware of any details on the issue but it looks like the number of people being referred for criminal charges is 24. You wouldn’t be aware of this but it comes from the Inspector Generals investigation. Five of the eight that were referred for criminal charges will be charged for leaks, misleading investigators and that kind of thing, 3 will be charged with conspiracy. So the jest of all this is that there will be more investigators charged than those they are investigating. I even included the Russians charged, good grief, there seems to be nothing Democrats can do to get something right.

oldhomey

Yes, I agree, new2, the whole scenario you paint is quite a jest. Some day, good grief, you might actually get something right yourself, but it is highly doubtful.

new2Lax

Barr didn't admit to being a wingman to the President, it was Eric Holder, when he said he was Obama's wingman. To me that sounds like he is a the beck and call for Obama. No, I don't think Barr is Trumps wingman and he said he would not let partisan politics affect his rulings. Obviously you have a different opinion but it is just that, an opinion. There is no way to change or deny what Eric Holder said, he was the President's wingman. That is not my opinion, that was Eric Holder's opinion of what he was.

martian2

I was never a fan of Eric Holder as AG, thought he could of done things differently and more effectively at times. I don't trust this Barr at all, another political insider from the Bush administration. That Hardly qualifies him as a non partisan professional doing the work of the people. Trump knew what kind of person Barr is, and that is why he appointed him. We will see what will happen when the report is made public shortly.

new2Lax

Wasn’t it Eric Holder who stated he was Obama’s wingman, maybe Obama new he was going to be in the tank for him, or was it because Eric Holder was the only AG cited for contempt of Congress while in office. When comparing Holder to Barr you can clearly see who is a little short on ethics.

oldhomey

new2, if you know this to be the case, don't simply muse about it, document it for us. That way you could build a little credibility to stand behind your name -- or "brand", as a crack HR man for a Fortune 300 company might put it. As it stands now, you are simply bloviating while saying nothing.

martian2

no one wants to compare AG's except you new2, you like to get caught up in what aboutisms. Its always a weak argument, full of holes, but you keep at it anyways.

oldhomey

I think it is ludicrous, but I have no objection for a full and fair investigation of DoJ and FBI personnel who had a hand in the Mueller investigation. I am not sure why, when Trump's conservative base is so ecstatic with the Mueller report, it is so hungry for this investigation, but if it will quell their suspicions of a deep state conspiracy against the most corrupt, dishonest, ill-prepared, immoral and unprepared human being ever to sit in the White House, let's have the investigation and see the results, same as we should be seeing the Mueller report but so far have not. The main thing coming out of the Trump era is that we have to restore public confidence in our most important institutions, both from the left and the right. And in doing so, we had better be ready to shuck off all the creeps , political hacks and toadies that are being foisted on us currently to run these institutions.

new2Lax

How benevolent you are, when 5 or so leaders of the DOJ and FBI were fired and 8 others referred to the DOJ for criminal charges and you don’t object to an investigation. You should be clamoring for an investigation, especially knowing the that Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for the dossier which was produced by the Russians and James Comey admitted it was salacious and unverified but was used as the primary source of evidence.

oldhomey

I see you got somebody to write for you again, new2. Good. But of course even when your messages are written out in understandable English, they are simply b.s. This should be borne out with the investigation you so fervently want made.

new2Lax

Suffice it to say you will be proven wrong again and I might say you are so many times, but I won’t. Several of those mentioned have already been found guilty by the previous Inspector General Micheal Horowitz and have been disciplined, how can this be b.s. it has already taken place, maybe your two admittedly bias news sources NPR and PBS didn’t publish what happened to Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page. Yep, that’s what it is, no wonder you can call it b.s. In order for you to acquiesce, you would have to know that this actually happened.
What will be borne out in the upcoming investigation into this conjured up special counsel will be, a conspiracy to destroy the duly elected President and a myriad of charges related to conspiracy. Each passing day reveals more unseemly behavior as e-mails and testimony already given parrots what I’m saying.
Just for Whitt’s and giggles, google what happened to the folks mentioned and then retract your b.s.

martian2

yep another conspiracy right up the right wingers alley. Don't know how they keep track of all these conspiracies and prognostications they keep spewing. They must have people working full time at it.

oldhomey

It's just new2 counting his chickens not only before they're hatched, but before the eggs he is counting on are even laid. But he seems to be trying to expand his vocabulary. I wonder if he is getting help in that.

capedcrusader

I think Buggs is back...

Comment deleted.
capedcrusader

Are you?

johnnybragatti

Trump ,the national criminal, was the only puss terrified by Mueller.
He"s still terrified., much like the Trump-Humper coalition

Cassandra2

Lowry, once again, makes claims about the Mueller Rport that he cannot possibly sustain, given that the report hasn't been made public. But in a way he's right. I want to know just how blatant the contacts with the Russians were that the FBI went against all precedent to begin looking into the collusion with our adversaries.

new2Lax

The only place Mueller didn’t look that I can see is Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid the Russian operatives via Steele for his dossier. Other than that the only other Russia connection they did find is with Obamas former attorney Greg Craig being involved with the Ukraine who by the way Russia supports and vice versa. The connection with the Democrats, particularly Joe Biden and his son, will be investigated thoroughly, the millions from the Ukrainian government was for what again.

Cassandra2

And how do you come to that conclusion, Newt? Have you seen the report? Please share it!

new2Lax

Just so I understand, you do not know that the Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for the Steele dossier. You did not know James Comey said the dossier was salacious and unsubstantiated and was used as a primary source for a FISA warrant. I guess we have to start there. Please use the time to research only these things, for now. Apparently NPR & PBS didn't cover these facts.

new2Lax

If you had paid any attention at all, you would have come up with the same conclusion. Just read a little bit and you will find the information. Read “ClintonCash” explained very
well.

capedcrusader

Tell us where you are getting that info...

Cassandra2

Straight from Q-Anon. LOL!

capedcrusader

Again... WHERE did YOU read that?

capedcrusader

Crickets...

capedcrusader

Attorney General Barr has a long sordid history of behaving more like a Republican operative than a public servant. In his first stint as Attorney General under President George H W Bush he helped engineer pardons for the 6 Iran Contra defendents. Barr is a staunch proponent for long prison sentences unless you happen to be a Republican traitor.
Barr received his second appointment to the Attorney General's position by writing an unsolicited memo casting doubt on the validity of the Mueller investigation and stating that a president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.
So far, Barr has remained true to form. He exonerated Trump of all charges in a 4 page memo despite the fact that Robert Mueller clearly did not issue an exoneration of the obstruction of justice charge. The real eye opener came in a Senate hearing yesterday, 4/10/19 when he claimed that the Trump campaign was spied upon. This claim has been discredited many times, but Barr threw it out there anyway without any new evidence to back it up. It almost looks like he is channeling an unhinged president.
In the short run the Mueller report will be released with redactions and Congress will have to fight for the unredacted report. In the long run the truth will come out, it always does. Mr. Barr doesn't seem to mind his reputation taking a hit. I wonder if it's really worth it to him.

mamasboy

An unredacted report can't legally be given out, caped one.

capedcrusader

Congress CAN subpoena the full report mamasboy. Stop acting like it and get with the program.

Climatehoax

No collusion, Trump wins
There was spy as he stated, Trump wins
No tax release, Trump win
The DemoRats win the fact that they keep making bigger and bigger jacka$$’s out of themselves

Cassandra2

Once again, Hoaxer, I ask you to provide us with the Mueller Report, which you seem to have seen. Where do you get your information? As for the tax returns, those will be forthcoming, since it is written in law, and you always claim to be the law-and-order type.

Climatehoax

Presidential Tax Returns
Individual income tax returns — including those of public figures — are private information, protected by law from unauthorized disclosure. Indeed, the Internal Revenue Service is barred from releasing any taxpayer information whatsoever, except to authorized agencies and individuals.
If you listen to reputable news sources instead of the DNC MSM you would know there is no evidence of collusion
INVESTIGATION
Mueller finds no proof of Trump collusion with Russia; AG Barr says evidence 'not sufficient' to prosecute

capedcrusader

See my 11:25 post.

oldhomey

I see you are as well versed in tax law and the IRS as you are with climate research, Climate. It must be a great comfort to you to walk through life so confident in your convictions. What do you do when they all prove to be wrong? Nothing, I would guess, except to wipe the drool off of your front shirt and move on to another misconception.

PhysicsIsFun

"Under Section 6103 of our tax code, Treasury officials “shall” turn over the tax returns “upon written request” of the chair of either congressional tax committee or the federal employee who runs Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation. No request has ever been refused, a host of former congressional tax aides tell me." https://www.thedailybeast.com/heres-the-law-that-requires-steven-mnuchin-to-turn-over-trumps-taxes-or-lose-his-office-and-go-to-prison

Cassandra2

Section 6103 of the tax code, states that the treasury secretary “shall furnish” a request from the congressional committees with tax oversight. That's the LAW, Hoaxer. Congress is an "authorized agency" and the Treasury department is required to comply.
If you listen to reputable news sources and not Fox, you would know that the report has not been released and that even AG Barr's brief summary stated that it did not exonerate the president. It's amusing that you wingnuts are so afraid of people reading the report and reaching their own conclusions that you want to bury all the evidence.

capedcrusader

What do you say to Cassandra and Physics below?

new2Lax

Want to bet. The law also provides for a reason for what is asked for. Mueller more than likely has gone through Trump's taxes with a fine tooth comb, my guess is, it was one of the first things done. He would have had the authority to do so.

capedcrusader

Why do you believe Mueller did that?

oldhomey

Well, new2, I believe your 6:13pm post is another example of your daffy speculation. But if it turns out to be true, it could only help your man Trump if that is what emerges in a full accounting of the Mueller report. You and he have no reason whatsoever to fear its release.

PhysicsIsFun

Trump wins, and America loses.

DMoney

How so? Who's losing and what are they losing?

capedcrusader

Who's winning other than the wealthy?

DMoney

I'm not wealthy, doing just fine. Same as everyone else I know.

capedcrusader

And probably were before Trump took office I imagine.

martian2

"The Mueller probe was a national trauma. " what a bunch of hooey! The only person the investigation traumatized was Trump, and he asked for it. Because of his outrageous public statements, and the crooked people he hired on his election team, it all required investigating. Lowry fails to mentioned how many indictments and prison sentences there are so far as a result of Meuller. Secret meetings and phone calls with Russian operatives and team Trump also helped spur the investigation, and for good reason. Now they are going to investigate the investigators. Why stop there, investigate those that are investigating the investigators. And on and on it goes into madness that only Trump is known for. Barr is obviously another attack dog Trump hired to get back at his political enemies. Something we all know Trump lives for.

new2Lax

I'm not sure he mentioned the folks connected with the Mueller investigation that have been fired or disciplined for their inappropriate behavior and the eight people turned over to the DOJ for criminal charges. All these people had a hand in the investigation and it must be investigated.Now this is even before Barr has started his investigation. You think maybe Mueller missed the secret phone calls, something tells me he found nothing there and another bet says he looked into Trumps taxes as well. I think you are mistakenly characterizing the AG William Barr, the correct name should be wingman and I guess that seems to be acceptable to everyone.

martian2

something tells you new2? Now what would the something be? Perhaps info wars or talk radio? Maybe fox news. As top law enforcement officer in the country the AG is not suppose to be anyone's wing man or political hack. But that is what we got. I guess the rule of law doesn't mean anything to you new2, so long as Trump is treated special by his political wingmen and hacks.

new2Lax

I guess you missed Eric Holders claim to be Obama’s wingman as AG. Good grief, you and Homey must be the two of a small group listening to NPR & PBS, they do not cover anything that has a negative left leaning slant. The former CEO’s readily admit their biases in presenting what they call news. It helps Homey feel good about most everything, reinforces his thinking on all matters left and only left.

new2Lax

You know I thought the same thing whenEric Holder proclaimed his Obama’s wingman status but I guess it is acceptable now. Identifying yourself as someone’s wingman seems like a very protective role and I guess Holder played out this role very well. Even though AG William Barr had not described himself as Trumps wingman, we should slow him to do the same thing. As for support for their boss, it does not cover excusing a contempt of Congress charge, that kind of diminishes your credibility. The fact Eric Holder did take the contempt charge so as not to expose his boss, well, what can you say, definitely a hack for Obama.

Cassandra2

Oh, Newt, of COURSE it's Obama's faulty! LOL!

martian2

yep, its the what about Obama argument again for the unteenth time! An indicator that your statements can't stand on their own. Too bad.

capedcrusader

new2Lax - you don't believe Barr is Trumps "wingman"?

new2Lax

You seem to use the word wingman loosely, please apply it to who was a wingman to a President. I did mention the fact I didn't approve of Eric Holder being Obama's wingman but that does not make it so. He knew exactly what he was doing when he said it.

oldhomey

new2, could you provide for us the evidence that Holder did something illegal to protect Obama?

oldhomey

new2? Are you there?

capedcrusader

More crickets oldhomey...

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