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Barr personally asked foreign intel officials to help with Mueller smear campaign

Barr personally asked foreign intel officials to help with Mueller smear campaign

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If you had any doubts as to whether Attorney General William Barr’s sees his primary mission as acting as Donald Trump’s personal vindicator rather than as a dispassionate and impartial overseer of the nation’s justice system, the news revealed in The Washington Post this afternoon should dispel them.

Those doubts were already on impossibly shaky ground after Barr’s gaslighting performance in distilling the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s damning investigation of the president into a summary that thoroughly belied the actual facts of the inquiry and allowed Trump to falsely proclaim “No Collusion, No Obstruction” for weeks before the truth of Mueller’s conclusions became known.

Now, The Post has reported that Barr went far beyond merely helping Trump misrepresent the special counsel’s report and actually actively attempted to discredit the probes of Russian interference in the 2016 elections by both Mueller and the U.S. intelligence agencies.

The Attorney General is said to have held private meetings with foreign intelligence officials while overseas, seeking their assistance in a Justice Department inquiry into the roots of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s extensive ties to Russia, part of the president’s mission to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the probes and their findings and give credence to his conspiracy theories about a “Deep State” plot to destroy his administration.

Barr’s meetings with the foreign intelligence representatives are one more indication that he is acting as if his loyalty belongs more to Trump personally than to the primacy of law enforcement, transforming the Justice Department into an arm of the Trump re-election campaign by using its resources to launch investigations of the president’s political adversaries.

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According to The Washington Post:

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“Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials expressed frustration and alarm Monday that the head of the Justice Department was taking such a direct role in re-examining what they view as conspiracy theories and baseless allegations of misconduct. “

The newspaper details Barr’s approach to intelligence officials in Great Britain over the issue and his trip with John Durham — the U.S. attorney in Connecticut who has been put in charge of reviewing U.S. intelligence efforts concerning the 2016 election — to meet with senior Italian government officials last week to convince them to offer help with Durham’s investigation of the investigators.

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According to one person familiar with the situation, this was not Barr’s first Italian visit spent consulting with intelligence officials.

The administration has reportedly made similar requests to the Australian government, the home of the diplomat whose conversation with a Trump campaign staffer, George Papadopoulos, helped put the campaign’s Russia ties in the crosshairs of the U.S. intelligence agencies to begin with.

The Post article quotes a former Justice Department official who worked on the initial phase of the inquiry into Russian electoral interference, David Laufman, in regard to Attorney General Barr’s close personal involvement in the counter-investigation instigated by the president.

Laufman said that it was “fairly unorthodox for the attorney general personally to be flying around the world as a point person to further evidence-gathering for a specific Justice Department investigation,” particularly in Barr’s case.

“Even if one questions, as a threshold matter, the propriety of conducting a re-investigation of the Justice Department’s own prior investigation of Russia’s interference, the appointment of John Durham — a seasoned, nonpartisan prosecutor — provided some reason to believe that it would be handled in a professional, nonpartisan manner,” Laufman said. “But if the attorney general is essentially running this investigation, that entire premise is out the window.”

With the Attorney General yet to recuse himself from the latest scandal that has beset the Trump administration — the pressure placed upon the Ukranian Government by the president and his non-elected, unconfirmed emissaries to deliver political opposition research or else forgo U.S. military aid — a scandal that he himself has been directly implicated in by the president himself according to the transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukraine president, it’s unlikely that Barr will cease his direct oversight of the retaliatory probe of the president’s intelligence agency nemeses.

All the more reason to add Attorney General Barr’s name to the list of Trump administration officials who deserve impeachment once Congress is finished removing the criminal president from office.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Devlin Barrett, Shane Harris, and Matt Zapotosky at The Washington Post.

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