Barr believes Durham will 'get to the bottom' of Trump-Russia investigation origin
Former U.S. attorney general gives his take on the the Durham report, election integrity, Jan. 6 and Trump's political future on 'The Story.'NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Former Attorney General Bill Barr said special counsel John Durham "will get to the bottom" of the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, calling the original probe and "collusion" narrative a "manufactured scandal" that hobbled former President Trump’s administration.
In an interview with Fox News Digital about his new memoir, "One Damn Thing After Another," in which he notes the Trump-Russia probe was in part what led him back to government service at the Justice Department, Barr expressed confidence in Durham’s years-long investigation.
"I think whether or not there are more indictments, I think Durham is going to get to the bottom of it as well as anyone can," Barr said, adding that Durham will eventually release a "report that lays out the facts."
The media has largely downplayed or otherwise ignored the court filing from special counsel John Durham as part of his investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
"I do think that there will be, as far as humanly possible using the justice system, there is going to be a disclosure of the relevant facts," he continued. "Whether that supports more criminal indictments, I have no idea."
Barr added: "I certainly hope that people, if they did commit crimes, and we can prove it, that they’re going to be held accountable."
"And there is no doubt in my mind that is what they’re going to do if he feels he has the evidence," Barr said of Durham and his team.
In 2019, Barr tapped Durham, who at the time was serving as U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to investigate the origins of the FBI’s original investigation into the Trump campaign, which led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
"I’ve never seen an adequate basis for launching a counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign," Barr told Fox News.
President Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 23, 2018, as he heads to Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Mueller's investigation yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.
In October 2020, Barr appointed Durham as special counsel in order to ensure he would be able to continue his investigative work – regardless of the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
In this May 29, 2019, file photo, special counsel Robert Mueller speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington about the Russia investigation. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Barr said he "intentionally" appointed Durham special counsel before the 2020 presidential election so that if Trump lost, "no one could say anything."
"I think if Trump lost and I did it, it would have been more vulnerable, but if I did it regardless of the outcome of the election, I thought that was a better way of doing it."
As for Democrats and the media, Barr said he doesn’t know that they are "ever going to accept the fact that this was a false scandal and was used in a partisan way against Trump."
Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, in London where he has spoken to the media for the first time. (Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
"The facts, you know, there was evidence of the Clinton campaign developing this, and the dossier, and the allegations about Alfa Bank and stuff," Barr said. "They are essentially part of a campaign plan— a Clinton campaign effort — and they really just buried all of that."
The unverified anti-Trump dossier was authored by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign through law firm Perkins Coie.
The dossier served as the basis for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Global Natural Gas Ventures founder Carter Page in 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
"The bureau used FISA surveillance, which is spying," Barr said, adding that the FBI also employed "agents and informants and confidential sources to meet and surreptitiously tape conversations they were having with people involved in the campaign."
"I mean, that’s what people watch on TV all the time — people who are wired up — that’s spying."
Barr was referring to the FBI’s use of at least one confidential human source who met with former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos overseas in 2016. The source secretly recorded the meeting with Papadopoulos, which Fox News obtained a declassified transcript of in April 2020.
In this Oct. 25, 2018, file photo, George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who triggered the Russia investigation, arrives for his first appearance before congressional investigators, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
The transcript revealed the confidential human source pressed Papadopoulos on whether the Trump campaign was involved in Russian election meddling — something, the transcript shows, Papadopoulos emphatically denied.
Barr described the tapes as having "exculpatory evidence," including Papadopoulos’ denial of having any contact with the Russians to obtain supposed "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.
As for Alfa Bank allegations, Barr pointed to Durham’s indictment of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann. The indictment alleges Sussmann told then-FBI general counsel James Baker in September 2016, less than two months before the 2016 presidential election, that he was not doing work "for any client" when he requested and held a meeting in which he presented "purported data and 'white papers' that allegedly demonstrated a covert communications channel" between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, which has ties to the Kremlin.
Durham has also alleged that Sussmann provided another government agency, which Fox News has learned was the CIA, with information that attempted to tie Trump to Russia and Alfa Bank.
Durham alleged Sussmann and a technology executive, who has since identified himself as Rodney Joffe, "exploited" "domain name system (DNS) Internet traffic pertaining to (i) a particular healthcare provider, (ii) Trump Tower, (iii) Donald Trump’s Central Park West apartment building, and (iv) the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP)."
John Durham and Michael Sussmann (Perkins Coie)
Joffe is not named in the filing but identified himself in a statement. He has not been charged with a crime.
Barr slammed the media for not covering the Durham investigation and for ignoring "the stunning information about how the source for the dossier was suspected of being a Russian asset."
Barr, in 2020, revealed that the primary "source" of Steele’s dossier was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 for suspected contact with Russian intelligence officers. Barr, at the time, said he had consulted with Durham, who had "originally" brought the information to his attention "in the course of his investigation."
"The country has been damaged," Barr said. "I think the whole Trump administration would have had a different tenor if he wasn’t greeted with this the day he walked in the door."
Meanwhile, in his memoir, Barr wrote that the Trump-Russia investigation was "in large part" what led him back into government service.
"It looked to me that we were potentially moving toward a constitutional crisis," Barr told Fox News, saying he was "skeptical of the collusion narrative."
"It was being taken seriously enough by the media and with the appointment of special counsel Mueller, that it really looked as if it could lead to Trump being driven from office, and the Department of Justice and the FBI were obviously caught up in it," Barr said. "Many people were feeling that the criminal justice process was potentially being used as a political tool here."
Barr, who served as attorney general for former President George H.W. Bush and previously worked for the CIA, said he had "no intention" of going back into government, but said "the times were such that there was a need for someone at the department who knew the place and could stabilize it."
Barr said there also was a need for someone who "had the independence to make decisions based on merits and wouldn’t have to worry about pressure from Congress, the press or the president — just do what they thought was right."
"I felt I had that freedom of action because I was at the end of my career, I wasn’t looking for anything further," Barr said.
But Barr told Fox News the allegations of his ties to Russia were "used to hobble his administration and that was very destructive, very unfair to Trump."
Barr said the investigations "distorted our foreign policy and limited the field that we could play in on foreign policy in terms of interacting with Russia over the four years of the Trump administration because of this phony scandal."
"It did the country a lot of damage, and yet they just ignore that and move on. I mean, it’s just the shamelessness of it," Barr said. "Ultimately, it is the partisan sentiment, and we are dealing with people who are truly partisan, and that is why they ignore it."
Barr said the "double standard" the left has used has "become much more clear."
"They don’t even try to excuse it any longer, you know, they just apply a double standard shamelessly, and so, this is an example of a double standard," Barr said.
He added: "If the shoe had been on the other foot, you know, we would never have heard the end of it."
Igor Danchenko leaves Albert V. Bryan United States Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Durham has indicted three people as part of his investigation: Sussmann in September 2021, Igor Danchenko in November 2021 and Kevin Clinesmith in August 2020.
Danchenko was charged with making a false statement and is accused of lying to the FBI about the source of information he provided to Steele for the anti-Trump dossier.
Kevin Clinesmith was charged with making a false statement as part of special counsel John Durham's investigation into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
Clinesmith was also charged with making a false statement. Clinesmith had been referred for potential prosecution by the Justice Department's inspector general's office, which conducted its own review of the Russia investigation.
Specifically, the inspector general accused Clinesmith, though not by name, of altering an email about Trump campaign aide Carter Page to say that he was "not a source" for another government agency. Page has said he was a source for the CIA. The DOJ relied on that assertion as it submitted a third and final renewal application in 2017 to eavesdrop on Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).