William Barr pushed back Wednesday on James Comey’s assertion that he had no knowledge of the “particulars” of the FBI’s infamous Crossfire Hurricane probe, in which the bureau was found to have made 17 “significant errors” in pursuing FISA warrants to surveil members of the 2016 Trump campaign.
During an interview Sunday with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Comey attributed the FBI’s errors in the FISA process detailed by DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz’s report to “sloppiness,” and said that he “didn’t know the particulars of the investigation” as director.
“As a director sitting on top of an organization with 38,000 people, you can’t run an investigation that’s seven layers below you,” he said. “You have to leave it to the career professionals to do . . . If a director tries to run an investigation, it can get mucked up in other kinds of ways given his or her responsibilities and the impossibility of reaching the work being done at the lower levels.”
But speaking Wednesday with Fox News’ Martha McCallum, Barr disagreed with Comey’s characterizations, especially the former FBI director’s claim that he was “seven layers” above the investigation.
“One of the problems with what happened was precisely that they pulled the investigation up to the executive floors, and it was run and birddogged by a very small group of very high-level officials,” Barr said. “The idea that this was seven layers below him is simply not true.”
In his interview with Wallace, Comey also claimed the attorney general had made “an irresponsible statement” when he said last week that the errors laid out in the IG report allow “the possibility that there was bad faith.”
Barr “does not have a factual basis as the Attorney General of the United States to be speculating that agents acted in bad faith,” Comey said. In an op-ed published December 9, he stated “Attorney General William P. Barr owes . . . the American people, an acknowledgment of the truth.”
In the Wednesday interview, Barr said it is “nonsense” that he is “somehow attacking the FBI” for wanting to investigate the origins of the bureau’s probe into the 2016 Trump campaign.
“We’re criticizing and concerned about misconduct by a few actors at the top of the FBI, and they should be criticized if they engaged in serious misconduct,” Barr said.
The attorney general also confirmed that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was tapped by Barr to lead an investigation into the original probe, was broadening his scope to look at other intelligence agencies.
“He’s not just looking at the FBI, he’s looking at other agencies, and departments, and also private actors, so it’s a much broader investigation,” Barr said. “Also, it’s not just looking at the FISA aspect of it, he is looking at all the conduct both before & after the election”
Following the release of Horowitz’s report, Durham caused waves by saying his team did “not agree” that the FBI had an “authorized purpose” for opening its investigation.