Accuracy in Media

Attorney General William Barr appears to be beginning to make mainstream media nervous with his probe into the origins of the investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

A report from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, due out on Halloween, could include multiple referrals for criminal prosecution, some news outlets have suggested, and media now appears to be trying to get out front with stories questioning the validity of his probe and other investigations led by Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham.

Ken Dilanian, Julie Ainsley and Tom Winter of NBC News posted a story over the weekend that attempted to imply the probe was unfocused and perhaps completely ungrounded.

“A review launched by Attorney General William Barr into the origins of the Russia investigation has expanded significantly amid concerns about whether the probe has any legal or factual basis, multiple current and former officials told NBC News,” Dilanian, Ainsley and Winter wrote in the lead of “AG Barr expands mysterious review into origin of Russia investigation” – subhead: “If U.S. Attorney John Durham is conducting a criminal investigation, it’s not clear what allegations of wrongdoing are being examined.”

It should be clear.

Barr has said the purpose of the probe is to “make sure there was not inappropriate surveillance of the Trump campaign” and that “’Some of the facts I’ve learned don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened.’”

The NBC story notes Durham “has expressed his intent to interview” former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others connected to the FBI/Department of Justice investigation into whether Trump was aided by the Russians in his 2016 campaign. His document requests have created “tension between the CIA and the Justice Department over what classified documents Durham can examine,” the story stated.

It later quotes Brennan saying he doesn’t “know what the legal basis for this is,” but he knows it’s “bizarre” and a former FBI liaison to Congress saying “it’s not normal” for a US. Attorney to conduct an investigation without an FBI referral of criminal allegations.

“’It’s unusual to the point that it looks to be political, and it’s a bad thing for DOJ to appear to be doing something for political reasons,’” Greg Brower, the former FBI director for congressional affairs said.

It further quotes Brower as saying it appears “’for political purposes, the White House wants to be able to say through the election cycle that all of this is being investigated.’”

What NBC calls “skeptics” have pointed out Durham has yet to interview former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok or former FBI general counsel James Baker. Yet, it concludes “Durham and his team appeared to be hunting for signs of anti-Trump bias among former FBI officials and were focused on the actions of Strzok.”

Or he could be looking for the server of the Democratic National Committee, which the DNC alleges was hacked by Russians by which no government official has been able to confirm. The story refers to “a conspiracy theory, mentioned by President Trump in his July phone call with the Ukrainian president,” that the server is actually in Ukraine.

“Under that discredited theory” – it does not mention how or what discredited the theory – “Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democrats in 2016,” the NBC trio wrote. “To believe that, one would have to doubt the unanimous assessment of the intelligence community and the findings of congressional intelligence committees who have examined the classified evidence, including Republican Trump supporters.”

It then quotes Tom Bossert, a former homeland security adviser, saying, “It’s not only a conspiracy, it is completely debunked.”

He then admitted the U.S. government concluded the server was hacked by Russians “before it even communicated it to the FBI, long before the FBI ever knocked n the door at the DNC.”

He also doesn’t point out how it was debunked.

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