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“It was a very damaging, big lie that started off the administration,” Barr told “Fox & Friends.”
“I think it started out as a political dirty trick, but it was propelled by the FBI jumping on it and spying on the Trump campaign. And it goes beyond the unfairness to Trump and the disruption of his administration,” Barr said.
Barr said the daily controversy surrounding allegations that the Trump campaign worked with Russians in 2016 in their campaign against Hillary Clinton hampered the president’s foreign policy.
“I think it tied Trump’s hands to deal normally with Russia and try to negotiate some kind of structure or framework diplomatically that would avoid what we’re seeing today. But his hands were tied by Russia-gate, so it did a lot of damage,” Barr said.
Barr’s comments came in the wake of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, which caused over 1.2 million Ukrainians to flee and a confirmed 406 civilians killed in Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24.
Barr said he believes Putin saw a “window of opportunity to grab what he wanted” after President Biden took office.
“I think he viewed Biden as weak. And then Biden proceeded with that ugly withdrawal from Afghanistan, killing America’s energy independence, which really increased Russia’s leverage dramatically. And he didn’t put in military hardware [in Ukraine] that would have made Russia think twice,” said Barr.
Trump’s term in the White House was marred for years with the narrative that his 2016 campaign was tied to Russia.
Barr appointed then-U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham in 2019 to investigate the origins of the FBI’s original Russia probe which began in July 2016, through the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in May 2017, shortly after Mueller completed his years-long investigation into whether his campaign colluded or coordinated with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“I think he will get to the bottom of it and if he can prove a crime, I think he won’t hesitate to indict people,” Barr told host Steve Doocy.
Barr has just released a book about his time in the Trump administration.
Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.