Attorney General William Barr recently presented British intelligence officials with a “wish list” of information requests that left the officials “astonished.” Barr is pursuing a counter-investigation into the 2016 election that, according to an analysis by Salon, is aimed at proving that Russia did not interfere in the election.
Barr has been reaching out to several foreign governments for information that could aid in his investigation. According to a report by Britain’s Independent newspaper, however, the information Barr has requested is “like nothing we have come across before,” per one British official with knowledge of the attorney general’s requests.
“They are basically asking, in quite robust terms, for help in doing a hatchet job on their own intelligence services,” the British official told The Independent.
The United States Intelligence agencies, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and special counsel Robert Mueller have all issued detailed reports identifying the Russian government as the entity behind the alleged 2016 election interference.
Barr is trying to demonstrate that Russia was framed by its neighbor Ukraine, as well as by the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the “deep state,” according to the Salon analysis by Heather Digby Parton, who won the 2014 Hillman Prize for analytical journalism,
The belief that Russia was somehow framed by Ukraine and Clinton derives from an online conspiracy theory that originated on the extremist message board 4Chan, researchers have found. Donald Trump has also been accused of subscribing to the same conspiracy theory.
Barr’s investigation has targeted the FBI, as well as other U.S. intelligence agencies, according to The Independent. His investigation into the 2016 election last week was redesignated as a criminal probe, meaning that Barr now has the power to issue subpoenas and bring charges against individuals in the U.S. intelligence agencies and FBI.
In September, Barr also traveled to Italy to meet with Italian police and government officials. In Italy, he reportedly listened to a tape of Joseph Mifsud — the mysterious academic who told a Trump campaign adviser in April 2016 that the Russian government possessed “dirt” on Clinton, in the form of “thousands” of emails.
That Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, has since claimed that Mifsud was part of a plot to set him up. Papadopoulos served a short jail term after he pled guilty to lying to the FBI, in part about his contacts with Mifsud.
On the recording allegedly heard by Barr, Mifsud reportedly expressed his fear that unidentified people are trying to harm him. The professor then asked the Italian police for protection. But Mifsud disappeared in November 2017, shortly after the recorded meeting with the country’s law enforcement authorities.