Barr refuses to say campaigns should report help from foreign adversaries


Attorney General William Barr was stumped when Sen. Chris Coons asked how campaigns should respond to foreign adversaries offering dirt on opponents.

While testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr seemed stumped when he was asked if a campaign should contact the FBI after being offered illegal assistance from foreign adversaries.

And Barr wouldn't even say it would be wrong for a hypothetical campaign to accept assistance from foreign adversaries affiliated with countries like North Korea or Russia.

"What if a foreign adversary — let's now say North Korea — offers a presidential candidate dirt on a competitor in 2020? Do you agree with me that the campaign should immediately contact the FBI?" Sen. Chris Coons (D-CT) asked Barr.

Barr paused for a full five seconds before responding. In fact, Barr seemed so stumped that Coons had to repeat the question.

"If a foreign intelligence service — a representative of a foreign government — says 'we have dirt on your opponent,' should they say, 'I love it, let's meet,' or should they contact the FBI?" Coons asked.

Barr finally answered only part of the question, saying, "If a foreign intelligence service does, yes" the campaign should contact the FBI.

That was a notably specific answer from Barr, who refrained from clarifying whether it's also a problem to receive help from a "foreign adversary" or from "representatives of foreign governments."

By doing so, Barr seemed to leave open the door to Trump campaign staff once again accepting assistance from a foreign government, just like they did in 2016.

Coons also referenced the excitement Donald Trump Jr. displayed when a foreign adversary, Russia in this case, came to him with potential dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Trump Jr. seemed eager to accept the assistance in the summer of 2016, responding to an email from Russian operatives saying they would share information about Clinton by saying, "I love it." He then set up a now-infamous meeting between campaign officials and Russian operatives in Trump Tower.

But Barr refused to criticize members of the Trump campaign for their outrageous behavior. Instead, Barr parsed his words and said campaigns should only report activity to the FBI if they are approached by officially identified employees of a foreign intelligence office.

When it comes to protecting democracy or covering for Trump, Barr once again opted to cover for Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.