Former CIA Director John Brennan hit the airwaves and took a victory lap after outgoing Attorney General William Barr acknowledged a lack of evidence showing CIA misconduct related to the genesis of the investigation into ties between President Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.
He made back-to-back appearances on MSNBC and CNN on Friday and chastised not only the Justice Department’s criminal inquiry into the Russia investigation but also Barr himself.
“It really is courageous of Bill Barr to say this after he has already announced that he is going to be departing office,” Brennan said with a sarcastic tone after CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer said Barr “effectively, for all practical purposes, [clears] you of any wrongdoing” after years of accusations of wrongdoing by Trump and his allies.
“If there was no basis for this, why was I interviewed by Mr. Durham for eight hours?” Brennan said. “Bill Barr used to complain about he didn’t see the predication for the FBI investigation into Trump engagements with the Russians. What was the predication of this Durham investigation? Was it just a trolling exercise? I think that’s what it was. And they looked at a lot of documents, they talked to a lot of people. Again, they interviewed me. And clearly, they couldn’t find anything that had any type of wrongdoing associated with it.”
In August, Durham’s team interviewed Brennan at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for eight hours, after which the former Obama administration official said he was not under criminal investigation. So far, Durham has secured a guilty plea from just one former FBI official, but his inquiry is poised to continue into the Biden administration after Barr elevated him to special counsel status in October.
Barr, who is leaving the Justice Department before Christmas, told the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel this week that early on, he suspected the CIA was assisting with improper surveillance before the start of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation in 2016, but in recent weeks came to the realization that there is no “sign of improper CIA activity” or “foreign government activity before July 2016.”
The CIA “stayed in its lane,” Barr concluded.
“We knew what we had to do in 2016 in terms of CIA’s responsibilities to try to understand what the Russians were doing and to try and take any steps to uncover that,” Brennan said when asked to react to Barr during an interview on MSNBC. “And so, we knew that everything we did was appropriate.”
Barr said Durham’s team is now mainly focused on “the conduct of Crossfire Hurricane, the small group at the FBI that was most involved in that,” and “the activities of certain private actors” whom he did not name.