Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s administration has been “dominated” by false allegations that he was a Russian agent who colluded with the Kremlin.
“To listen to some of the rhetoric, you’d have figured that the Mueller report had found the opposite,” Barr said during a contentious hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“How did we get to the point here where the evidence is now that the president was falsely accused of colluding with the Russians, and accused of being treasonous, and accused of being a Russian agent?” said Barr, adding “the evidence now is that was without a basis.”
“Two years of his administration have been dominated by the allegations that have now been proven false.”
Barr offered the assessment late into Wednesday’s hearing, which saw the attorney general face down questions from Democrats who accused him of misrepresenting special counsel Robert Mueller’s final Russia report.
Democrats accused Barr of downplaying evidence that Mueller gathered showing Trump attempted to obstruct the Mueller probe. Barr defended his handling of the report. He received the report from Mueller on March 22, and released a four-page letter laying out its main conclusions two days later. He released a partially redacted version of the report just over three weeks later, on April 18.
Barr offered his summary of the origins of the Russia probe after a particularly pointed exchange in which Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono accused him of lying to Congress about his handling of the Mueller report.
Democratic lawmakers and liberal pundits have long accused Trump of being a Russian stooge and of conspiring with the Kremlin to win the 2016 election. One major source for the unfounded allegations was a dossier authored by a former British spy who worked in 2016 for the Clinton campaign and DNC. (RELATED: Barr ‘Concerned’ That Steele Dossier Was Russian Disinformation)
Christopher Steele, the dossier author, provided his reports about Trump’s alleged Russian ties to the FBI as well as to the media. The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s work to obtain surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The claims that the campaign colluded or that Trump is a Russian agent were all but debunked by Mueller’s 448-page report.
Mueller said prosecutors were unable to establish that Trump or members of his campaign conspired with Russia in 2016, or that they acted as agents of Russia.
Barr also said Wednesday he is looking into the FBI’s decision to begin investigating the Trump campaign. He also said he is “concerned” the Steele dossier could be the product of Russian disinformation.
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