Attorney General William Barr weighed in this week on the progress of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into the FBI investigation of alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election.
He announced on Monday that the scope of the case is unlikely to result in criminal charges against either former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden — a statement that President Donald Trump found surprising.
“Obama knew everything that was happening”
Despite new revelations about an investigation of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, Barr said this week that he does not expect anyone at the top of the Obama administration to be implicated.
“Based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” he said on Monday. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”
President Donald Trump reacted to the announcement by expressing surprise over Barr’s determination.
“I think if it was me, they would do it,” he said. “I think for them, maybe they’re not going to. I’m surprised because Obama knew everything that was happening.”
Trump went on to describe the development as “just a continuation of a double standard,” though Barr acknowledged that the absence of a criminal prosecution does not mean there was no wrongdoing.
“The biggest political crime in American history”
“Not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime,” he added.
AG Barr: “Not every abuse of power — no matter how outrageous — is necessarily a federal crime.” pic.twitter.com/EtsO4U4qa4
— The Hill (@thehill) May 18, 2020
For his part, Trump continues to assert that his predecessor is guilty, vaguely describing Obama’s behavior as “the biggest political crime in American history.”
Pressed to elaborate on the nature of what he has begun calling “Obamagate,” Trump simply said that Obama’s crime “is very obvious to everybody.”
Although it is clear that Barr’s assessment of the Durham investigation frustrated the president, the attorney general appears to be maintaining a nonpartisan approach to federal law enforcement. That might not always lead to results that will please Trump and his base, but many Americans will appreciate his efforts to stay above the fray.