Attorney General William Barr waved off President Donald Trump’s repeated suggestions that Barack Obama masterminded a criminal plot against him, saying Monday that he doesn’t expect criminal charges will be brought against the former president or former Vice President Joe Biden as part of the Justice Department’s probe into the Russia investigation.
Reacting to Barr’s remarks later in the day, Trump said he was “surprised” since in the president’s view, “Obama knew everything that was happening.” The president did not explain, however, what the former president knew.
With Trump recently calling for the DOJ to prosecute Obama and other members of the former president’s administration for supposed crimes, Barr was asked at a press conference on Monday whether that was something he was going to do.
“As long as I’m attorney general, the criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends,” the attorney general responded.
Barr also lamented that “there have been increasing attempts to use the criminal justice system as a political weapon,” adding that there’ve been attempts to “gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories.”
The attorney general made sure to point out that he was not specifically referencing Trump’s recent comments, going on to insist that he cannot “allow this process to be hijacked by efforts to drum up criminal investigations of either candidate.”
Barr also dismissed the notion that handpicked prosecutor John Durham—who is investigating how the FBI handled the probe into potential Trump campaign coordination with Russia during the 2016 election—would bring criminal charges against Biden or Obama.
“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” he declared. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”
Over the past week, the president has relentlessly accused his predecessor of unspecified crimes under the guise of “Obamagate.” Trump, however, was unable to explain what crimes he was accusing Obama of committing when pressed last week, instead saying it was “very obvious to everybody.”