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Barr: U.S. must know whether top officials 'put their thumb on the scale' during Russia probe

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Image: A farewell ceremony for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at th
Attorney General William Barr at the Department of Justice on May 9, 2019. -
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Leah Millis Reuters
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Attorney General William Barr said in an interview airing Friday that the point of the Justice Department probe into the origins of the federal investigation into Russian election interference is to determine "whether government officials" abused "their power and put their thumb on the scale."

"I've been trying to get answers to the questions and I've found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I've gotten don't hang together," Barr said in an interview with Fox News.

"In a sense I have more questions today than when I first started," he added.

Barr said that "people have to find out what the government was doing during that period," adding that, "if we're worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale."

"I'm not saying that happened but it's something we have to look at," he said.

In April, Barr said he was "reviewing the conduct"of the FBI's Russia probe during the summer of 2016, and that the Department of Justice inspector general would release a report on the FBI's use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process and other matters in the Russia case in May or June.

President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have long argued that the Russia investigation had its origins in a group of biased FBI leaders who bore animosity toward Trump, including then-Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Both men have denied that they acted out of any bias, saying there was a trail of evidence of Trump campaign contacts with Russians they would have been negligent not to follow.

The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, has been looking into how the FBI obtained a warrant in October 2016 to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who had traveled to Russia and had previously been the target of recruitment by Russian intelligence officers.