Nets Trash Criminal Investigation Into Russia Probe as ‘Political Revenge’

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On Friday, all three network morning shows rushed to dismiss the newly revealed criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe as nothing more than “political revenge” against President Trump’s “enemies.” Hosts and correspondents dutifully stuck to Democratic Party talking points trashing the inquiry, coming just shy of labeling it a “witch hunt.”

“Breaking overnight, investigating itself. The Justice Department now opening a full-blown criminal investigation into its own Russia investigation,” co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed at the top of NBC’s Today show. She then teased: “Straight ahead, is it a legitimate inquiry or the President’s political revenge?”

 

 

In the report that followed minutes later, White House correspondent Kristen Welker announced: “Overnight, Democrats cried foul, accusing the President of using the Justice Department for his own political purposes.” She emphasized “Democrats blasting the inquiry and Attorney General William Barr,” while touting: “Congressman Jerry Nadler tweeting overnight, ‘The Justice Department has now become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge.’”

“And, Pierre, this is raising some serious questions about whether the President is using the Justice Department to go after his enemies,” fill-in co-host Cecilia Vega remarked to chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Thomas agreed and stuck to the liberal media narrative of the day: “Democrats are already crying foul. Overnight, the chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees issued a blistering joint statement accusing Barr of trying to help the President politically during those damaging impeachment proceedings.”

Leading off CBS This Morning, co-host Tony Dokoupil declared: “Breaking overnight, the Justice Department launches a criminal investigation of the Russia election probe. Why it raises new questions about the department’s independence from the President.”

Reporting on the topic early in the show, correspondent Paula Reid framed the development as a “political win for President Trump,” before hyping Democratic outrage:

But in a statement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said, “These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its Independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge.”

After co-host Anthony Mason incredulously asked about the possibility of criminal charges against officials involved in the Russia investigation, Reid replied in part: “It’s unclear what criminal charges, Anthony, could be filed against the officials....But by opening a criminal investigation and gathering just enough damaging information, the Attorney General could still hand President Trump a political win right in the middle of the 2020 campaign season.”

Not a single one of the network journalists entertained the possibility that there may have been serious misconduct in the Russia probe. Instead, they sought to immediately undermine the clearly expanding investigation into how that investigation was handled.

Here is a transcript of the October 25 coverage on NBC’s Today show:

7:00 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Breaking overnight, investigating itself. The Justice Department now opening a full-blown criminal investigation into its own Russia investigation. Straight ahead, is it a legitimate inquiry or the President’s political revenge?

(...)

7:07 AM ET

KRISTEN WELKER: President trump has long attacked the Russia investigation as a witch hunt and a hoax. And now this major development, his own Justice Department investigating whether the origins of it crossed legal lines. Overnight, Democrats cried foul, accusing the President of using the Justice Department for his own political purposes.

This morning, a bombshell from the Justice Department, now investigating itself. According to a person familiar with the matter, the Russia probe into 2016 election interference resulting in the Mueller report has now become a criminal investigation into the very agency that was conducting it. Led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, who now has the power to subpoena witnesses, impanel a grand jury, and file charges. All against some of his own officials. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reacting overnight.

JAMES CLAPPER: I found the timing interesting, given the increasing heat around the impeachment inquiry.

WELKER: Democrats blasting the inquiry and Attorney General William Barr, who is overseeing it.

REP. SEAN MALONEY [D-NY]: Where is this investigation going? It makes no sense. So bring it. Bring it, Attorney General Barr.

WELKER: Congressman Jerry Nadler tweeting overnight, “The Justice Department has now become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge.”

(...)

Here is a transcript of the coverage on ABC’s GMA:

7:09 AM ET

(...)

CECILIA VEGA: And this of course comes amid that headline that the Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into the Russia probe. President Trump making good on his threat to investigate the investigators. And it means the Justice Department is now essentially investigating itself. Our chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas has the latest. And, Pierre, this is raising some serious questions about whether the President is using the Justice Department to go after his enemies.

PIERRE THOMAS: Indeed, Cecilia, good morning. Barr is now personally overseeing a criminal investigation that could target FBI and intelligence officials who were initially were involved in the launch of the Russia probe. But Democrats are already crying foul. Overnight, the chairmen of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees issued a blistering joint statement accusing Barr of trying to help the President politically during those damaging impeachment proceedings.

It’s the investigation the President has been calling for, for months, claiming that the Mueller investigation’s origins were not only a witch-hunt but illegal.

DONALD TRUMP: The Russian investigation is a hoax. It’s a phony hoax.

THOMAS: Still, FBI and Justice Department officials have long maintained that numerous contacts between trump associates coupled with the Russians hacking the DNC called for a counterintelligence investigation. But Trump’s appointed attorney general, William Barr, has been skeptical of that probe since taking office.

WILLIAM BARR: I think that spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur.

THOMAS: Barr had authorized longtime prosecutor John Durham to conduct a review to see if the initial investigations and court-approved surveillance was done by the book. Now word, first reported in The New York Times and confirmed by ABC News, that Barr’s given Durham the power to conduct a criminal investigation. Giving him the power to compel witnesses through subpoenas and the ability to seek a grand jury. It’s unclear what, if any, criminal violations took place and whether anyone ultimately will be charged. The President claiming treason.

TRUMP: We can never allow this treasonous – these treasonous acts.

THOMAS: Durham, the prosecutor in this case, now has the power of pressure. He can pursue subpoena’s and call for a grand jury, Cecilia.

(...)

Here is a transcript of the coverage on CBS This Morning:

7:00 AM ET

TONY DOKOUPIL: Breaking overnight, the Justice Department launches a criminal investigation of the Russia election probe. Why it raises new questions about the department’s independence from the President.

7:08 AM ET

ANTHONY MASON: CBS News confirms the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation to find out how its own probe of Russian election interference began in 2016. The FBI and intelligence agencies found Russia acted to help President Trump’s campaign. But the President claims he was the investigator’s original target. Paula Reid is at the White House. Paula, what does there mean for the President?

PAULA REID: Anthony, CBS News has learned that the prosecutor overseeing this case will now have the power to subpoena witness testimony, documents, and even empanel a grand jury and file criminal charges. So this is a political win for President Trump, who for two years has railed against the legitimacy of the Russia investigation, insisting that it was started by “deep state” intelligence officials who wanted to prevent his election.

But in a statement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said, “These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its Independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge.”

Attorney General William Barr has closely overseen this investigation. He even traveled to Italy to personally secure its assistance. He also asked President Trump to reach out to foreign leaders, including Australia, to ask for their help in this matter.

MASON: Paula, where could this criminal probe lead, and could there be charges?

REID: It’s unclear what criminal charges, Anthony, could be filed against the officials who were involved in the early months of this probe. Sources have suggested in recent weeks that it’s actually unlikely any criminal charges will be filed. But by opening a criminal investigation and gathering just enough damaging information, the Attorney General could still hand President Trump a political win right in the middle of the 2020 campaign season.

MASON: Alright, Paula, thank you.

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