Trump 'surprised' Barr sees no criminal probe into Obama, Biden

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE said Monday that he was “surprised” by Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump sides with religious leaders in fight against governors Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans Senate Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Planned Parenthood loans MORE’s statement that he doesn’t anticipate a criminal investigation into former President Obama or former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks Biden set to make risky economic argument against Trump Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE.

“I think if it was me, they would do it. I think for them, maybe they’re not going to,” Trump told reporters Monday afternoon when asked about the attorney general's comments. “I’m surprised because Obama knew everything that was happening.” 

“I think it’s just a continuation of a double standard. I am surprised by it,” the president continued. 

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Barr earlier Monday said he didn’t expect U.S. attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamThe Hill's Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 Trump 'surprised' Barr sees no criminal probe into Obama, Biden Barr doesn't expect Obama, Biden criminal investigations MORE’s probe into the FBI’s decisionmaking in the Russia investigation to lead to criminal investigations of either Obama or Biden.

“Based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr told reporters. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.” 

He also denounced “increasing attempts to use the criminal justice system as a political weapon.” 

“As long as I am attorney general, the criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends,” Barr said.

Trump later Monday said he wasn’t necessarily disappointed by Barr’s comments but reiterated that he believed the former president's and vice president's actions in connection to the Russia investigation were “illegal.”

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“I don’t say disappointed or not but I have no doubt that they were involved in this hoax, one of the worst things ever befall to this country in terms of political scandal. I have absolutely no doubt that Obama and Biden were involved, and as to whether or not it is criminal, I think it would be very serious,” the president said. 

“It was a takedown of a president, regardless of me, it happened to be me, and in my opinion it was an illegal takedown,” Trump said. “I’m going to let the attorney general make all of those decisions. I am going to stay out of it because it is the appropriate thing to do. I wouldn’t have to stay out of it as you know, but I’ve decided to stay out of it.”

Barr, who has himself been critical of the early steps taken in the FBI’s Russia probe, has tapped Durham to investigate the origins of the investigation. Durham has yet to file any charges in connection with the investigation.

Trump, who has long alleged the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt” perpetrated by politically motivated FBI agents against his campaign, has stepped up claims in recent weeks that Obama was personally involved in an effort to sabotage the incoming administration during the 2016 transition.

The president has accused Obama of being privy to “the biggest political crime in American history” and demanded last week that Congress call the former leader to testify.

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Speaking to reporters last week, the president declined to name the specific crime he believes Obama committed but insisted it was “very obvious to everybody.”

Trump and his allies have been fueled by new revelations in the case involving Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in late 2017.

The Trump administration last week declassified a list of Obama administration officials who requested Flynn’s name be “unmasked” in intelligence reports that included Biden. 

The act of unmasking, which refers to the practice of disclosing the identity of a monitored person on an intelligence report, is not an uncommon practice. Still, conservatives have pointed to the new details as evidence Flynn was wronged by federal authorities, including suggesting that details of Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. were illegally leaked to the media.

Earlier in May, the Justice Department moved to drop charges against Flynn, a decision that has opened up Barr to accusations of politicization of the DOJ. Barr told CBS News in an interview that the department had a "duty" to move to drop the case. 

"A crime cannot be established here. They did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage," Barr told CBS.