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AG Barr to investigate possible Clinton-Russia collusion during 2016 campaign

Attorney General William Barr testifies before a House subcommittee in his first appearance before lawmakers on Capitol Hill. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
May 02, 2019

Attorney General William Barr told senators on Wednesday that he will be reviewing 2016 Presidential campaign activity, including the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Barr said his review will include “the activities over the summer of 2016” including investigative decisions surrounding Clinton and now President Donald Trump, the Washington Times reported Wednesday.

One of the questions Barr intends to explore in his review is the amount of information the FBI used that was provided by British spy Christopher Steele, who was contracted by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, hired by a Clinton campaign lawyer.

He will also probe how and when the FBI discovered that the Steele dossier was supported by Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Much of the information provided by Steele was reportedly derived from third party and unvetted Russian sources.

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It was this information, and the dossier Steele penned with it, that laid the groundwork for allegations that Trump and Russia conspired in the campaign, and was allegedly used by the Obama Department of Justice to initiate a counterintelligence investigation of four Trump campaign advisers.

Former CIA Director John Brennan reportedly “endorsed” the dossier after reviewing a copy in December 2016 and believed it matched up with information from his sources, according to investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear,” and which the Washington Times had reported last year.

“The sources that Steele used for his dossier had not been polygraphed, which made their information uncorroborated, and potentially suspect,” Woodward wrote. “But Brennan said the information was in line with their own sources, in which he had great confidence.”

Republican senators this week suggested that the Russian sources may have intentionally supplied Steele with false information knowing it could influence U.S. intelligence.

“That’s the definition of collusion,” Sen. Charles Grassley asserted.

“That is one of the areas that I’m reviewing. I’m concerned about it, and I don’t think it’s entirely speculative,” Barr told the committee.

Last month during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Barr said he believed Trump was spied on during the campaign.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said. “Yes, I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I’d need to explore that.”

“I feel I have an obligation to make sure government power is not abused. I think that’s one of the principal roles of the attorney general,” he added. “I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016.”

After four hours of testimony on Wednesday on his approach and handling of the final report submitted by special counsel Robert Mueller, Barr refused to return Thursday for additional testimony after warning the committee he would not attend if he were to face staff member questioning, which Republicans likened to interrogation, USA Today reported.