• Bill Barr says attacks on the FBI over the Mar-a-Lago search are "misplaced." 
  • "A decision like this is not going to be made by the FBI," the ex-attorney general told Bari Weiss. 
  • Barr said he hasn't reached a conclusion over whether the FBI search was justified. 

Former Attorney General Bill Barr says attacks on the FBI over its unprecedented raid at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence are "over the top" and "misplaced." 

On August 8, FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago, Trump's club in Palm Beach, Florida, as part of the Department of Justice's ongoing criminal investigation into the former president's handling of government documents, including classified documents. 

"I think a lot of the attacks on the FBI are over the top because a decision like this is not going to be made by the FBI. And in fact, I don't think the FBI come and pound the table pushing a decision like this," Barr said in an interview on writer Bari Weiss' podcast, "Honestly."

Trump and his allies have slammed the investigation as improper and politically motivated, fueling threats and even attacks against federal law enforcement officials. 

"In this kind of situation, the decision that it's best to go in and search and obtain those documents after being jerked around for a year and a half — and that's the way the Department would look at it — would be made at the Department of Justice by subordinates of the AG  and ultimately signed off on by the AG," Barr explained. "So the idea that the FBI is the problem here is misplaced."  

Last year, Barr bashed the FBI's investigation into whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, saying the agency intended to "sabotage" Trump. During the Weiss podcast, Barr said the "Russiagate" investigation created the current scenario of distrust against the FBI in which "people are going to think the worst and not give the FBI or Justice Department the benefit of the doubt." 

"Some people in the career ranks are partisans and can't check it at the door," he said, "and there are others that do." 

As for the FBI search, Barr said he's keeping an open mind, adding that he hasn't yet reached a conclusion over whether it was justified because he doesn't have the details of the investigation, including how sensitive the documents were and whether there was evidence of "active conceit" for misleading the government.

FBI Director Chris Wray, he said, was not the type of leader who would "wake up and say, 'How do I throw the FBI's weight around to interfere in the political process?' Just the opposite. I think he's very cautious about that."

The former attorney general also didn't predict whether the FBI would bring charges against Trump. He said it would come down to whether it could be "justified as a matter of law" and whether the criminal justice process should be used in this context given that it involves a former president and would "be very incendiary in the country." 

"I think the attorney general will require some exacerbating circumstances here," Barr said, "like very sensitive information and information that shows the president knew what he was doing and there was misleading of the government on that issue." 

Read the original article on Business Insider