‘CIA Stayed In Its Lane’: Latest Trump ‘Investigate the Investigators’ Effort Fizzles Out as AG Barr Reveals No Spy Agency Misconduct in Russia Probe

Donald Trump, Bill Barr

Photo credit: Jim Watson, AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s latest “investigate the investigators” probe increasingly looks like it will fail to produce his long-sought evidence of a huge Deep State plot against him, much like all the others that preceded it.

During a long interview with Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberly Strassel, Attorney General Bill Barr dropped a bombshell that he and Special Counsel John Durham have concluded that the nation’s top spy agency did not violate the law or act outside its purview in the Russia collusion probe of Trump.

The biggest news from Mr. Durham’s probe is what he has ruled out. Mr. Barr was initially suspicious that agents had been spying on the Trump campaign before the official July 2016 start date of Crossfire Hurricane, and that the Central Intelligence Agency or foreign intelligence had played a role. But even prior to naming Mr. Durham special counsel, Mr. Barr had come to the conclusion that he didn’t “see any sign of improper CIA activity” or “foreign government activity before July 2016,” he says. “The CIA stayed in its lane.”

This news drives a stake through the heart of one of Trump’s constant claims, that the Obama-era CIA and sympathetic Deep State actors acted improperly to spy on his 2016 presidential campaign and trigger the Russia election interference probe that ultimately turned into the Mueller probe.

Trump repeatedly implicated Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan as complicit in this misconduct and cited right-wing media sources like Fox News and One American News Network to claim that it was actually the CIA that was colluding with other government agencies, all in an effort to take down his campaign — and then presidency.

Instead of a wide-ranging roundup of anti-Trump fifth columnists, however, Barr characterized the Durham probe as now “tightly focused on ‘the conduct of Crossfire Hurricane, the small group at the FBI that was most involved in that,’ as well as ‘the activities of certain private actors.’” Barr wholesale dismissal of any CIA misconduct was preceded by the Durham team’s announcement back in August that Brennan was not a target of the probe.

This seemingly anti-climactic end to a highly-touted part of the Durham probe is reminiscent of how the Obama White House “unmasking” scandal played out, which Trump repeatedly promised would prove criminal and even treasonous behavior by former President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden. That probe fizzled out to nothing, as the Justice Department wrapped up its investigation this fall, finding there was no wrongdoing by anyone involved.

Last year, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz likewise led an investigation of the FBI’s conduct in the 2016 campaign investigation and Mueller probe of Trump. While Horowitz did find “performance failures,” he nonetheless cleared the agency of intentionally targeting Trump, concluding there was “no political bias” in the agency’s actions. That verdict was a hammer blow to Trump’s narrative that he was a victim of a Deep State conspiracy at the DOJ, and he tried to spin the Horowitz’s report in his favor while slamming the IG as suffering a “big credibility loss.”

Not satisfied with that IG report’s outcome, Trump convinced Barr to convene a wider, full-government review of the Russia collusion investigation, one that would also include scrutiny of the CIA and other agencies involved, beyond just the FBI. But Barr’s revelation to the Journal effectively confirms that Trump’s many claims about the spy agency targeting him were baseless.

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