'It's treason': Trump blasts Obama, abuses in discredited collusion probe
Alluding to rapidly accumulating evidence of politicized investigative and prosecutorial abuses throughout the course of the Russia probe, President Trump said, 'We caught them cold.'
June 23, 2020 - 7:09pm
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
That was President Trump’s blunt, some would say jarring, response in an interview Monday when prompted to specify the crime encompassed by the myriad abuses committed in the now-debunked Russia collusion probe set in motion by the Obama administration — a 3-year ordeal that plagued the Trump 2016 campaign, presidential transition, and presidency.
"It's treason,” the president repeated. “Look, when I came out a long time ago, I said they've been spying on our campaign. They've been 'taping,' that was in quotes, meaning a modern-day version of 'taping,' they were spying on my campaign. I told you that a long time ago. It turned out I was right. Let's see what happens to them now.”
(“Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” Trump wrote in a March 4, 2017 tweet that was much-derided at the time.)
The president let fly with his unfiltered broadside against his predecessor toward the end of a wide-ranging, 20-minute interview at the White House, on the West Wing Colonnade outside the Oval Office.
U.S. Attorney John Durham has been tasked by Attorney General William Barr with investigating the origins of the much-hyped, now-discredited narrative that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election. Part of the focus is expected to center on what actions former Obama administration officials took surrounding the Russia probe during the election and in the presidential transition interval following Trump’s unexpected victory. Those findings are expected to be released sometime this summer.
“I never met Durham because I want to stay out of it because otherwise, it's going to look political, but as you know, Durham is a highly respected person, and Bill Barr is doing a great job as Attorney General,” said the president. “Let's see what they come up with, but they don't have to tell me. All I have to do is read the papers — the 'insurance policy': ‘In case she doesn't win, we have an insurance policy.’ Now we've caught them.”
Alluding to rapidly accumulating evidence of politicized investigative and prosecutorial abuses thoughout the course of the Russia probe, President Trump said, "We caught them cold. [Fired former anti-Trump FBI agent Peter] Strozk and [former anti-Trump FBI lawyer Lisa] Page, the two lovers, [former CIA Director John] Brennan and [former Director of National Intelligece James] Clapper the way they lied."
A torrent of reports and declassified documents in recent months has revealed that, among other things:
- The FBI repeatedly suppressed extensive exculpatory evidence in its FISA warrant surveillance applications in the Crossfire Hurricane probe of alleged Trump-Russia election collusion.
- The FBI and, later, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team continued their investigation into rumored Trump-Russia collusion long after allegations central to the Steele dossier underpinning the probes had been disavowed by their putative source or otherwise disproved.
- After FBI investigators cleared Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn of allegations of impropriety in phone calls with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during the transition period, anti-Trump former FBI agent Peter Strzok interceded to keep the Flynn probe open, citing orders from the bureau’s top leaders, or “seventh floor.”
- President Obama was informed about the content of the Flynn-Kislyak calls, and former FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have provided mutually contradictory, sworn testimony to Congress about whether Clapper briefed Obama on the matter.
- The Mueller probe, which inherited and absorbed the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, withheld exculpatory evidence to obtain convictions of Flynn and former junior Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos on process charges generated by the collusion investigation itself.
"Democrats can't stand Bill Barr,” the president was prompted by this reporter in Monday's interview. “They think he's political."
"You know why?” he responded. “Because he's doing such a good job because he's law and order. He's got them in his crosshairs, and now we have to see what's going to happen. I will say this: If it were reversed, and if the other side sat — we’re at the Oval Office, right in that chair behind the Resolute desk — and it was the opposite, two years ago, 25 people would have been convicted, and they would be sent to jail for 50 years.”
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