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James Comey unleashes on Attorney General Bill Barr on Twitter



Former FBI director James Comey shot back at Attorney General William Barr on Twitter Friday night: “Donald Trump has enough spokespeople.”

“The AG should stop sliming his own Department,” Comey wrote. “If there are bad facts, show us, or search for the professional and then tell us what you found. An AG must act like the leader of the Department of Justice, an organization based on truth.”

The tweets appeared to be in response to Barr’s interview with Fox News, part of which was aired this morning on “Fox and Friends,” as well has his interview with The Wall Street Journal, but the topic has deeper origins.

What’s going on?

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was completed in March of this year, and the redacted version was released in mid-April.

Mueller found that Russians did try to meddle with the election, and Trump campaign members were in contact with Russian nationals, however, there was not evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the two entities.

However, in terms of obstruction of justice, Muller declined to reach a conclusion — neither exonerating nor charging the president. He laid out 11 examples of potential obstruction and seemed to be leaving the question for Congress.

Following the release of the Mueller report two distinct narratives have emerged. Democratic lawmakers by-and-large want to investigate Mueller’s findings further — especially on obstruction of justice, as he declined to make a judgement on the matter.

Republicans, who see the Mueller report as exonerating the president, want to investigate how the Russia investigation began — back in 2016 before Mueller took over in 2017.

This desire hints at Trump’s unfounded theory that law enforcement was “spying” on his campaign, rather than engaging in a lawful investigation into Russian interference and possible collusion into an American presidential election.

( The Washington Post has a guide, if you’re inclined to learn how the 2016 investigation began, including the key players, FISA warrants, and what, if anything, is controversial about it.)

Read more: One paragraph in the Mueller report illustrates how selectively Barr quoted the document in his public statements

Enter Attorney General William Barr.

Whether he intends to or not, Barr’s comments have fueled this narrative — despite the rebuking of the current FBI director Christopher Wray, who said he would not characterize the FBI’s investigation as “spying.”

“If we’re worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale,” he said in an interview with Fox New. “And so I’m not saying that happened, but it’s something we have to look at.”

“The statements were the latest in a series of actions and comments by Mr. Barr expressing skepticism about how the FBI began investigating during the 2016 presidential campaign whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia’s election interference,” The New York Times’ Charlie Savage explained in a piece on Friday.

Barr’s actions since taking the reins of the Department of Justice have led critics like Comey ( and others) to charge that he is not acting as a head of the department but rather as a protector of the president — especially in the wake of specific decisions related to the release of the Mueller report, comments made about the start of the Russia investigation, and the stonewalling of congressional inquiries.

He also launched his own investigation into the investigation tapping US Attorney in Connecticut John Durham to look into the matter, despite the fact that the inspector general is already conducting an investigation.

Comey, who was head of the FBI when the Russia inquiry began, appeared to respond to Barr’s interviews — and Trump’s subsequent tweets.

“The president claiming the FBI’s investigation was ‘TREASON’ reminds me that a Russian once said, ‘A lie told often enough becomes the truth,'” Comey wrote on Twitter. “That should happen in America. Who will stand up?”

Other former FBI officials have also criticized the accusation of “spying,” including former general counsel Jim Baker, who addressed the issue last week at the Brookings Institute.

Baker said that he “just became sick of all the BS that is said about the origins of the investigation,” The Post reported, and wanted to “reassure the American people that it was done for lawful, legitimate reasons.”

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