Topline: Claiming the Russia investigation was launched “without basis,” Attorney General William Barr, in an interview with Fox News Thursday night, defended Trump’s decision to boot Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the intelligence watchdog who called attention to the Ukranian whistleblower’s complaint that jump-started last fall’s impeachment proceedings.
- “He had interpreted his statute, which was a fairly narrow statute which gave him jurisdiction over wrongdoing over by intelligence people, and tried to turn it into a commission to explore anything in the government and immediately report it to Congress without letting the executive branch look at it and determine whether there was any problem,” Barr said of Atkinson’s performance.
- “Even more concerning, actually, is what happened after the campaign, a whole pattern of events while he was president…To sabotage the presidency, and I think that — or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency,” he added.
- As the AP points out, however, the Justice Department in December found no evidence that the probe had been politically motivated and concluded that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been justified in opening an investigation.
- In the interview, Burr also criticized mail-in voting and praised Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis as “statesmanlike.”