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GOP senator: Dems are getting ‘antsy’ about what Barr’s probe could reveal
The Democrats are getting “antsy” about what may soon be revealed about the origins of Russiagate, GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn (TN) said Sunday.
Blackburn said that the Democrats should be concerned about the upcoming inspector general’s report on whether politics played a role in the FBI’s 2016 investigation of the Trump campaign, as well as whatever Attorney General William Barr may uncover in his sweeping review of the Russia probe.
“I’m not certain what the ETA on the IG’s report is going to be, but here is what we do know,” Blackburn told Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures. “The Democrats are getting mighty antsy about what might be found in that report and about what Attorney General Barr could possibly be looking at because they are the ones who did some outsourcing and working with the Russians and foreign nationals and trying to get information.”
Despite all the recent media chatter about President Donald Trump saying he would accept foreign election help, it was the Democrats who actually worked with Russians to get damaging information. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) joined Hillary Clinton’s campaign to help fund the creation of a now-infamous dossier containing salacious but unverified claims about Trump, Blackburn noted.
“The dossier paying for that through the Clinton campaign, some of the other connections, of course, we know that [Rep.] Adam Schiff [D-CA] was looking forward to talking to some Russian agents and getting information, so all of that does come into play,” the congresswoman said.
Republicans have long alleged that the intelligence “community” was deceptive about its reliance on the dossier as evidence to justify its counter-intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. In particular, Republicans have accused the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) of using the dossier to improperly obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
The clock is ticking
DOJ Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz has been investigating these alleged surveillance abuses, including the FBI’s handling of the dossier, since March 2018. Barr said in April that the IG report could be expected by June, and in recent weeks, Fox’s Sean Hannity has said that according to his “sources,” the report may be finished and already in Barr’s hands.
But some, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), have speculated that the investigation may take longer, especially after ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who prepared the dossier, reportedly agreed to an interview with Horowitz.
In any case, Blackburn, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed confidence in the panel and its chairman, Republican Lindsey Graham (SC). Graham has expressed concern about possible FISA abuse, as well as disappointment with the Democrats’ apparent indifference toward political spying.
“We look forward to getting the report and I can assure you that chairman Lindsey Graham…will do a tremendous job of conducting appropriate oversight,” Blackburn said on Sunday.
Blackburn went on to blast a bill recently introduced by Democrat Sen. Mark Warner (VA) that would require political campaigns to report foreign election help. She called the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act “overly broad” and a “political stunt” that comes only in light of President Trump’s admission last week that he would “listen” if a foreign government had damaging information on his election opponent.
“I do congratulate my Democrat colleagues for finally admitting that Russia is not our friend,” Blackburn added.
Dems in panic
Regardless of the timeline, there is near universal agreement among Republicans that the IG report will be damaging for intelligence officials who played key roles in the Russia probe and the Democrats who pushed the Steele dossier’s claims. Republicans have predicted that the report will lead to indictments for the likes of former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA chief John Brennan.
Horowitz could indeed make criminal referrals to Barr, who is conducting his own, intensifying review of the Russia probe. Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead the review, which received a boost last month with President Trump’s order to declassify intelligence related to the FISA warrants.
Meanwhile, Democrats including Schiff have blasted Barr’s investigation as an attempt to distract from, or even “cover-up,” wrongdoing by Trump. For his part, Barr has doubled down on his efforts to “investigate the investigators” and has publicly expressed concern with the way the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign was conducted.
Looks like accountability could be right around the corner.
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