William Barr, Without Evidence, Suggests The FBI Spied On The Trump Campaign
On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr conducted his second day of testifying before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee. Barr not only took the opportunity to echo Donald Trump‘s concern over the origins of Robert Mueller‘s Russia probe, he also indicated the Justice Department is interested in investigating the FBI for allegedly spying on Trump’s campaign.
“Spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr said. “I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”
Continuing, Barr noted, “For the same reason we’re worried about foreign influence in elections, I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. I’m not suggesting those rules were violated but I think it’s important to look at. I think it’s my obligation”
However, while the Attorney General doesn’t believe this problem is “endemic” to the FBI, he has selected a few colleagues to “pull all of this information together” and determine if “some areas” should be examined. Barr, however, did not provide any evidence or reasoning for his concerns. “I have no specific evidence that I would cite right now,” Barr admitted. “I do have questions about it.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) pressed Barr on his definition spying, spurring Barr to clarify, “I want to make sure there was no unauthorized surveillance. I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I am saying I am concerned about it and looking into it. I believe there is a basis for my concern. But I’m not going to discuss the basis.”
Barr’s comments are likely to be welcomed news to Trump, who earlier in the day suggested the FBI’s decision to launch the investigation was an “attempted coup.” Trump also regularly decried the special counsel’s probe as a “witch hunt,” accusing it of being a measured attack against him. “This was an attempted coup, this was an attempted takedown of a president,” Trump said.
Democrats, meanwhile, are critical of Barr, believing Trump appointed him to further his agenda and help mitigate any damage Mueller’s report might cause.