Barr dispels 'Obamagate' claims to Trump's surprise

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 19, 2020 - Duration: 02:40s

Barr dispels 'Obamagate' claims to Trump's surprise

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Monday he does not expect a Justice Department review of the FBI's handling of 2016 election interference to lead to criminal investigation of former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden.

This report produced by Chris Dignam.

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Barr dispels 'Obamagate' claims to Trump's surprise

"'Obamagate.'

It's been going on for a long time." President Donald Trump's repeated claims that his predecessor engaged in something illegal - without giving details on what that might be - were dismissed on Monday by his own attorney general, who said an ongoing review of the FBI's handling of the investigation into Russia's election interference was unlikely to lead to a criminal investigation of former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden.

"As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don't expect Mr. Durham's work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man.

Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others," said U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

At Barr's request, federal prosecutor John Durham is reviewing the origins of the 2016 election interference probe.

Trump in recent weeks has attempted to rebrand that investigation as an alleged criminal plot to damage his presidency, and the allegations reached a fever pitch during a blitz of 120 tweets and retweets on May 10, Mother's Day.

The next day, Trump was asked to clarify his allegations.

REPORTER: "What is the crime, exactly, that you're accusing him of?

TRUMP: "You know what the crime is.

The crime is very obvious to everybody.

All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours." Trump has stepped up claims of what he calls "Obamagate" as he faces criticism for his administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and prepares to face Biden in the November election.

After Barr's announcement on Monday, Trump said he was surprised that Barr did not expect the Justice Department review to lead to a criminal probe into his political rivals.

REPORTER: "What do you think of Mr. Barr's decision?" TRUMP: "Well, I think if it was me, they would do it.

I think for them, maybe they're not going to.

I don't know.

I'm surprised because Obama knew everything that was happening... As far as Biden is concerned, that I can't tell you.

Only he knows what he knows.

I don't think he knows too much.

But I think Obama and Biden knew about it.

They were participants.

But... So I'm a little surprised by that statement." Some of Barr's critics may have been surprised, too, as many of them have accused the U.S. attorney general of politicizing the justice system in favor of Trump allies.

Earlier this month, he moved to dismiss the criminal charges against Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

And in February, he intervened to recommend a lighter sentence for Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone.

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