Former Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday attempted to distance himself from the Trump administration’s Dept. of Justice spying on at least two Democratic members of Congress. The DOJ, according to a New York Times report, subpoenaed communications records from Democratic lawmakers, plus their staffs, family members, and at least one minor child.
But Barr’s remarks could appear to be something of a contradiction, or an attempt to obfuscate.
In a telephone interview with Politico, Barr said both that he was “not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case,” and that he “was not aware of who we were looking at in any of the cases.”
Politico reports “Barr said that while he was attorney general, he was ‘not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case.’ He added that Trump never encouraged him to zero in on the Democratic lawmakers who reportedly became targets of the former president’s push to unmask leakers of classified information.”
Trump “was not aware of who we were looking at in any of the cases,” Barr said. “I never discussed the leak cases with Trump. He didn’t really ask me any of the specifics.”
Politico also spoke with Mary McCord, a career attorney who headed the DOJ’s National Security Division.
“All I can say is that any investigation involving an elected official would be considered a sensitive matter that would need high-level approval at the department,” McCord said.
The Inspector General of the Dept. of Justice earlier Friday announced it will launch an investigation into the DOJ spying on prominent Democratic members of Congress during the Trump administration’s time in office.
Barr has a history of lack of candor:
.@KamalaHarris: "Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?"
Barr stumbles over his answer before saying he's "trying to grapple with the word 'suggest'" pic.twitter.com/SKpDTzVIbu
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) May 1, 2019
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