Russia probe without basis, US A-G says

By AAP Newswire

US Attorney-General William Barr believes the Russia investigation that shadowed President Donald Trump for the first two years of his administration was started without any basis and amounted to an effort to "sabotage the presidency."

Barr offered no support on Thursday for his assertion the FBI lacked a basis for opening the investigation and made no mention of the fact that the bureau began its probe after a Trump campaign adviser purported to have early knowledge that Russia had dirt on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Barr, who has appointed a US attorney to lead an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, said the Justice Department has evidence there was "something far more troubling" than just mistakes during the investigation that eventually morphed into special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

"I think the president has every right to be frustrated, because I think what happened to him was one of the greatest travesties in American history," Barr said in the interview with Fox News Channel's Laura Ingraham.

Barr said the FBI launched its counterintelligence investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia "without any basis".

"Even more concerning, actually, is what happened after the campaign, a whole pattern of events while he was president," Barr said.

"To sabotage the presidency, and I think that - or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency."

The Justice Department's inspector general found the FBI was justified in opening an investigation into ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia - to protect against a national security threat - and found the bureau didn't act with political bias.

Trump and his supporters are counting on different conclusions from the separate investigation led by John Durham, the US attorney Barr selected to examine the early days of the Russia probe.

Durham's investigation is ongoing, and Barr did not provide any evidence about what Durham has found so far.