Donald Trump may not be the only one facing the prospect of impeachment after reports indicate that Attorney General William Barr may have knowingly lied to Congress about the FBI spying on Donald Trump.
Barr came under scrutiny after telling senators during testimony in April that the FBI had spied on Trump’s campaign in 2016. This echoed the unsubstantiated claim from Donald Trump that Barack Obama had the wires at Trump Tower tapped during the election, which had already been denied by the Obama administration and largely debunked by all available evidence.
But Barr seemed to back up Trump on the assertion, saying he believed that it did occur.
“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr said at the time, via CNN.
A forthcoming report from the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General will reportedly put that claim to rest, verifying that the FBI had never spied on Trump or his campaign. As Law & Crime noted, Barr has already come under fire for repeating Trump’s claim, even before the report’s release. University of Alabama law professor Joyce Alene Vance accused Barr of feeding into Trump’s narrative that he is under fire from the “deep state,” which refers to a shadowy set of top government officials that Trump supporters claim are trying to stymie his presidency.
The report added that congressional Democrats are already starting to turn their scrutiny to Barr for what appeared to be an untruthful statement during his Senate testimony, questioning why the inspector general’s office is not actively investigating Barr and whether he intentionally lied. They noted that the Justice Department’s Michael Horowitz had investigated Attorney General Eric Holder during the Obama administration, but has not placed similar scrutiny on those serving in the role under President Trump.
“As far as we can tell, Horowitz has given a full pass to Trump’s DOJ, the most politicized Department in modern times,” a senior Democratic congressional aide told NBC News.
Law & Crime also quoted former White House ethics counsel Richard Painter, who said that he believes Barr could face impeachment if it is proved he knowingly lied to Congress in his claim that the FBI spied on Trump.
The full inspector general’s office report will not be released until December 9, but leaked information about the findings has already been spun as a major rebuke of the Trump administration and his frequent claim that he was the subject of spying in 2016.