Barr may get to the real truth.
New Attorney General William Barr told lawmakers yesterday that he will be looking to the “genesis” of the the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into potential ties between members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government began in 2016, saying, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal” — echoing some of the more inflammatory claims lobbed by President Donald Trump for months.
“I think spying did occur,” Barr said. “The question is whether it was . . . adequately predicated.”
The news will likely be viewed as a welcome development to the President, who has regularly called for an investigation and, as recently as last week, told reporters more should be done to examine the origins of the Russia probe.
It will also likely raise concerns of politicization of the department’s work at an already tense time, as Democrats worry that Barr is bending to the President’s demands and have called on Barr to release an unredacted version of the special counsel’s confidential report on the Russia investigation to Congress.
Barr’s own review of the FBI’s counterintelligene work was briefly touched on during his House appropriations hearing, but the attorney general went further during Wednesday’s Senate appropriations hearing explaining his reasoning.
“For the same reason we’re worried about foreign influence in elections, I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr said. I’m not suggesting those rules were violated but I think it’s important to look at. . . . I think it’s my obligation.”
He added that he’s not launching a full blown investigation to the FBI, and does not view it as a problem that is “endemic” to the FBI, but has in mind some colleagues to help him “pull all this information together, and letting me know if there are some areas that should be looked at.”
Trump said Wednesday morning that Barr was doing a “great job” and “getting started on going back to the origins on where exactly this all started because it was an illegal witch hunt.”
“This was an attempted coup, this was an attempted takedown of a president,” Trump said.
Barr’s review is separate from the ongoing work being conducted by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, Inspector General Michael Horowitz, but could not detail its precise scope nor explain how the work of US Attorney John Huber, who was also tasked with investigating surveillance matters, factors in at this stage, and Barr did not elaborate further. Stay tuned.
One person has died and 15 others were injured after a fiery explosion in Durham, North Carolina, Wednesday morning, according to officials.
The blast was caused by a gas leak after a contractor drilling into the sidewalk struck a two-inch gas line, said Durham police. A building partially collapsed from the explosion, police said.
A firefighter is among the injured and was hospitalized in serious condition police said. Two Dominion Energy workers were also hurt, police said.
Actress Lori Loughlin, her husband and 14 other parents ensnared in a massive college entrance scam were hit with additional charges on Tuesday, including a count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, federal officials said. Loughlin is said to refuse to plead guilty as to hopefully not see prison time.
The new charges came a day after federal prosecutors said actress Felicity Huffman and 13 other defendants charged in the probe dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues” had agreed to plead guilty.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday declared a public health emergency in a heavily Orthodox Jewish section of Brooklyn amid a growing measles outbreak.
As part of the declaration, people living in select zip codes of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood who have not been vaccinated against measles and may have been exposed to the highly-contagious virus will now be required to get the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.
“There’s no question that vaccines are safe, effective and life-saving,” de Blasio said in a statement. “I urge everyone, especially those in affected areas, to get their MMR vaccines to protect their children, families and communities.”
A total of 285 cases of measles have been confirmed in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community since the outbreak began last October. The vast majority of cases involved children under 18 who were not vaccinated or who had not received the required number of doses of the MMR vaccine, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Although no one has died, 21 patients have been hospitalized, including five who were admitted to a New York intensive care unit.