Attorney General William Barr sat down for an interview on Sunday with with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News. The interview lasted more than 30 minutes, covered more than a dozen subjects, and while he didn’t break new ground on any particular topic, he did make some provocative statements on several of the topics he was asked about.
Here is a recap of what I took from the interview to be the most interesting comments made by him, presented in the order the subjects were covered in the interview.
The interview is available in two parts on YouTube.
Part One is here.
Part Two is here.
Regarding the violence and rioting that have grown out of protests in the country since the death of George Floyd: “We need to restore public order, we can’t be ruled by the mob.” Professional agitators have hijacked many of the demonstrations, and the agitators and anarchists are in it just for the violence and confrontation.
Regarding the “CHOP” zone in Seattle, a section of downtown Seattle that has been taken over by Seattle Black Lives Matter, what role does the federal government have in protecting the people who live in that neighborhood?
In the first instance it is the responsibility of local and state to protect their citizens. At the end of the day the federal government does have the responsibility to make sure citizens are not deprived of their federal rights. DOJ is keeping an eye on Seattle and in due course may have to do something because cannot let it go on indefinitely.
Before the current problems arose, he was concerned that many law enforcement agencies were already having troubles maintaining the level of police presence needed in the cities. But beyond recruiting difficulties, with the hostility expressed towards the police, there are now concerns that police will begin to pull back on enforcement activities and not take the risks. This is likely to lead to increases in violent crimes and more deaths.
On the recent increases in “censorship” by large tech companies with online publishing platforms, he is supporting suggested changes to § 320 due to increasing content restrictions by tech companies. He referred to what he called a “bait and switch” by those companies when, while building their membership and user base, they held themselves out as welcoming members with all viewpoints, amassing huge market positions in the process. Now, without meaningful competition, they are using that market position to eliminate variety of viewpoints that they disapprove of. This limits the robust public debate that formerly took place on their platforms. Barr said he was orried about this issue going into the election because cutting off debate leaves people feeling like their voices aren’t being heard, and could lead to an undermining of confidence in the election itself. He said that our tradition of peaceful transfers of power is all premised upon the principle that the country has confidence in outcomes of elections, and state politicians playing around with election rules to benefit their party only makes this problem worse.
Barr said he came back to DOJ to restore confidence in the system as he saw two systems of justice seemed to exist near the end of the Obama Administration. His only correction has been to apply one standard of justice to all cases in the Department. When asked about why Gen. Flynn was charged with lying to investigators, while Comey and McCabe were not, he declined to comment, other than to point out that DOJ has sought to dismiss the case against Gen. Flynn.
Regarding Durham’s probe — he said he was shocked at the silence from media on the collapse of Russiagate after all they did to sensationalize the allegations for years. Not even a “whoops” – just onto the next “false scandal”. No expressions of concern about “civil liberties or integrity of governmental processes” as reflected by that collapse.
He expect developments in Durham’s investigation by the end of the summer, and that the investigation will continue through the election – Durham won’t stop working. But he said what happens after the election may depend on who wins the election. That’s a round-about way of saying that Democrats are in the cross-hairs, but if Biden wins you can expect all the investigations to be closed.
Most bluntly he said “This is the closest we have ever come to an organized effort to push a President out of office.”
Regarding the actual origins of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, and whether it all really began with George Papadopolous he said somewhat skeptically it seemed “That is the official version of what happened” referring to Papadopolos’ comments to Downer in a London Pub being the reason for the start of CH.
Regarding the two interviews by FBI Agents with the primary sub-source for the Steele memos — in Jan and Mar 2017 — Barr said the sub-source was the sole conduit for the information in the dossier, and the dossier pretty much collapsed as a result of those interviews. But it was still continued to be used as a basis for continuing the investigation. He explicitly DECLINED to discuss Comey and McCabe’s knowledge about the dossier in Mar. 2017.
Unmasking during transition — he observed it was “unusual” for high level officials of the outgoing administration to be unmasking the incoming administration in the days just prior to them preparing to leave office. He said it made him wonder why they were doing that — without answering his own question.
Maybe his strongest comments came at the end in discussing China, the CCP, and espionage aimed at stealing US technology.
He described it as a fundamental challenge to US prosperity, which he said has since the late 19th century come as a result of US leadership in technological development. In the last decade or so China has been explicitly pursuing their goal of supplanting the US in that regard.
Barr said what is at stake is nothing less than the economic opportunity of our children and grandchildren, as China will use any advantage it gains over the US in that regard for leverage.
He said the CCP has been engaged in a very aggressive program of stealing and cheating in order to overtake US on tech development.
But most significantly, he said the American business community has been a big part of the problem, and Pres. Trump has confronted this problem in ways that no one else before him has done. He said too many US businesses are willing to trade-off long-term viability of their companies for short-term profits, which then allow them to gain and execute stock options and realize personal wealth at the expense of future growth and opportunity.