MSNBC host Chris Matthews blasted Attorney General William Barr for being a “hitman” for the president in launching an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
Matthews unloaded on Barr and his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia-related investigation during “Hardball” on Tuesday, accusing the attorney general of trying to “destroy the FBI” in order to protect President Donald Trump.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, a guest on the MSNBC show on Tuesday, agreed with Matthews, adding his own description of the attorney general as a “fixer” and “protector” of the president following reports that Barr had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to essentially investigate the investigators.
Durham has reportedly been working on the investigation “for weeks” and, despite Trump denying that he asked Barr to appoint the federal prosecutor, Matthews accused Barr of doing just what the president wanted.
“No, I didn’t ask him to do that. I didn’t know it,” Trump told reporters outside the White House Tuesday. “I think it’s a great thing that he did it.”
“Well, even if Trump didn’t discuss it with the Attorney General, he wouldn’t have needed to do since he’s been calling for it. He’s been calling for that inquiry for many occasions,” Matthews declared. “It’s an embarrassment to have an attorney general who looks like a Roy Cohn, a guy who will do anything to defend the president and now has become his hitman.”
“Not only will he play defense, he’s out to destroy the government, the FBI, everything in order to cover the tracks of the president,” he continued.
“What do you make of this guy and how can you stop Barr from doing what he’s out to do now, destroy the FBI?” Matthews asked Castro, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee
“Barr is a very quiet and somewhat unassuming guy in his demeanor, but really he’s been a fixer for the President and a protector,” the Texas Democrat stated. “I think the reason they’re opening this investigation is because they want to chill anybody else from looking into anything else that the President does.”
Matthews interjected to ask about Barr’s allegations that the FBI was “spying.”
“What do you make of the fact that the Attorney General of the United States refers to the FBI, which is under his supervision in the chain of command, as a spying operation, it was spying on the Trump campaign?” the MSNBC host asked. “He likes that word. It’s Trump’s word, it’s now his word.”
Castro found it “remarkable” but concluded that “this wasn’t a case of spying, this was an investigation.”
“It would be the most derelict of things if the FBI had good information that a presidential candidate for his campaign or her campaign was working with a foreign government and did absolutely nothing to investigate it,” Castro replied. “In some ways, that would be an even bigger scandal, if we found out that they had solid information about that and didn’t lift a finger to protect the country.”
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Monday that Barr’s move to assign the special ‘bulldog’ prosecutor to investigate the Russia probe is an indication that he thinks something criminal took place and that Democrats should be “quite worried.”
Former DOJ official on William Barr’s ‘bulldog’ prosecutor: Democrats should be ‘quite worried’ https://t.co/qeqiSz6KGX
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 14, 2019
Barr is reportedly working “collaboratively” on the investigation with FBI Director Chris Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, according to Fox News and Durham is also working directly with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.