U.S. President Donald Trump says he did not order Attorney General William Barr to launch another investigation into the origin of the Mueller probe, but says he is glad Barr did.
“No, I didn’t ask him to do that. I didn’t know it, but I think it’s a great thing that he did it,” Trump shouted to reporters on the White House lawn.
Trump has publicly called for investigations into the Russia probe, including tweeting last month, “INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS!”
On Tuesday he again called the Mueller report a “hoax,” even if he previously said it exonerates him of allegations that he and his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Barr has appointed U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham to oversee the new investigation into the beginnings of the Mueller probe.
Trump and his supporters, including Barr, have accused the FBI of what they call “spying” on his presidential campaign in 2016.
Barr did not give any specifics on what kind of spying may have taken place.
But when the Obama administration began to learn about Russian election meddling, the Justice Department got a surveillance warrant on former Trump aide Carter Page who had dealings with a Russian intelligence agent.
An FBI informant also met with former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who had Russian business interests.
Current FBI Director Christopher Wray said last week he does not consider the FBI surveillance to be “spying” and says the agency did not break the law.
Democrats say Trump is trying to use the spy charges to divert attention from the ongoing Congressional probe of his finances and the fact that Mueller declined to say whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to derail his investigation.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Tuesday called Durham, who is a federal prosecutor for Connecticut , a “talented professional … a straight-shooting serious, smart prosecutor” who is being wasted in a “politically-motivated distraction.”
Two other investigations into how the Mueller probe began are already under way — one by the Justice Department’s inspector general, and one ordered in 2018 by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.