Reacting to Attorney General William Barr’s shocking claim that he believes “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Wednesday night that this was further proof the Republican Party establishment was beholden to Fox News and its top star.
During Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations hearing, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) asked Barr about his decision to convene a team to investigate why the FBI opened an investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 election. Barr replied that he was reviewing the “conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign” before saying, “I think spying did occur.”
This claim that the Obama administration used the FBI and intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump campaign has been pushed by President Trump and his allies for over two years now, starting with Trump’s infamous tweet—and unfounded claim—that he “found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity, meanwhile, has been one of conservative media’s leading traffickers of the theory that an anti-Trump ‘Deep State” in the government tried to take down Trump before the election, devoting countless on-air segments to it.
Discussing Barr’s testimony on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, anchor Anderson Cooper asked Toobin what he made of the Attorney General echoing Trump’s rhetoric and using the word spying, noting that Barr is “not someone who says something by accident.”
“This is a classic demonstration of the Fox News-ification of the Republican Party,” Toobin exclaimed. “That even an establishment figure like Bill Barr, someone who comes out of the George Herbert Walker Bush administration, talks like Sean Hannity.”
The legal analyst criticized Barr for using a “loaded term” that was “completely false,” adding that Barr not only said there was spying but that the attorney general is going to conduct an investigation into it.
“That is a President Trump talking point,” Toobin declared. “There's already been an inspector general's investigation, so I don't know what he's going to investigate, but you know, his use of this term shows how much the paranoid lunacy of the right wing is now moved right in to the Department of Justice.”
Toobin also took Barr to task for bringing up Uranium One, which he noted has long been “another Fox News fantasy about Hillary Clinton.”
This wasn’t the first time Toobin invoked Hannity on Wednesday while discussing Barr’s testimony. Earlier in the day on CNN, he said the attorney general was sending a “dog whistle to Sean Hannity.”