Trump 'surprised' Barr says review of Russia probe will not 'lead to criminal investigation' of Biden and Obama

President accuses predecessors of participating in 'illegal takedown' of his 2016 campaign

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Monday 18 May 2020 22:06 BST
Donald Trump calls Obama 'grossly incompetent'

Donald Trump said he is “surprised” his hand-picked attorney general, William Barr, announced earlier Monday he does not expect an internal Justice Department review of the agency’s Russia election meddling investigation will lead to criminal charges against Barack Obama or Joe Biden.

The sitting president accused the 44th chief executive and his vice president “were participants” in what he called “an illegal takedown” attempt of his 2016 presidential campaign and then hobble his presidency.

“Whether or not it was criminal, I think it would be very serious,” Mr Trump said. “In my opinion, it was an illegal takedown.”

Only Mr Barr, the country’s top law enforcement officer has concluded otherwise after reviewing the findings of US Attorney John Durham, who is assessing the department’s Russia meddling investigation..

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

The former vice president is the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, meaning Mr Trump is accusing his opponent of unspecified crimes and signalling his AG to launch a campaign-season criminal investigation.

As the president returned to the White House from Camp David on Monday, he called his predecessor “grossly incompetent” in response to Mr Obama’s criticism of the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in which nearly 90,000 Americans have died.

During a virtual Saturday commencement address to graduates from historically black colleges and universities, Mr Obama said: “More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing ... A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

It was the second time within the last two weeks that Mr Obama directly addressed his successor, after leaked audio revealed Mr Obama calling the Trump administration an ”absolute chaotic disaster” as the president furiously spun his “Obamagate” allegations.

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