Attorney General William Barr isn't the first Trump loyalist to go on the hunt for evidence to knock down the CIA’s conclusion that Russia sought to help Donald Trump win election in 2016. When now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was first appointed CIA director in 2017, he too worked over CIA analysts in an effort to unearth some nugget Trump could cling to in order to refute their assessment.
“This wasn’t just a briefing,” a person familiar with the grilling told Politico’s Natasha Bertrand. “This was a challenging back and forth, in which Pompeo asked the officers tough questions about their work and how they determined Putin’s specific objectives.”
Guess what? Try as he might, Pompeo came up dry.
As it happens, special counsel Robert Mueller and the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee also reached the same conclusion as Pompeo and the CIA—that the Kremlin absolutely intended to boost Trump's candidacy while hamstringing Hillary Clinton's chances of being elected.
The Justice Department's inspector general is currently treading similar terrain, with a final report expected any month now. But that wasn't good enough for hatchet man Barr. He assigned Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham in May to take a crack at finding some nugget of satisfaction for Trump, who simply can't stand the idea that he both wanted and needed Moscow's help to win election.
Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell has been calling B.S. on Barr's fishing expedition ever since he announced it. “The Justice Department’s job is to see whether a crime has been committed, not to assess the quality of intelligence analysis,” said Morell, host of the Intelligence Matters podcast. “They have no training or experience in that.”
Don't bother hatchet man Barr with logic and reason—he's on a mission. The only thing that's unclear is whether that mission is simply to elevate the power of the presidency so high that whoever holds the office is untouchable, or if it's to turn the U.S. into a fascist state ruled by Donald Trump.