AG Barr: ‘I think spying did occur’ against Trump campaign

Grant Boone
April 16, 2019

Now that Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel tasked with investigating Mr. Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign and their ties to Moscow, has concluded that no criminal conspiracy occurred, Republicans are claiming predicting that Mr. Horowitz's findings will be damning, preparing to claim vindication that the Trump-Russia investigation was politicized.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 10, Barr said he thought USA intelligence agencies conducted "spying" operations against Trump's 2016 election campaign team.

President Donald Trump says he has spoken to the USA attorney general about tracing the origins of the inquiry that cleared him of colluding with Russian Federation. "I was amazed at that and rather disappointed that the attorney general would say such a thing".

"What role did the dossier play?"

Barr has said that Mueller's full report on his investigation, minus some redactions, will be presented to Congress next week.

BRIAN SCHATZ: I think the word spying could cause everybody in the cable news ecosystem to freak out. By focusing on the privacy rights of "peripheral" third parties, Barr may be signalling he will make an exception to the policy in order to allow information to remain unredacted concerning people who, while not charged with crimes, are central to the probe, potentially including Trump. So do you feel like it carries more weight now when it comes from the attorney general? He later said during the hearing that he wasn't sure there had been improper surveillance and wants to ensure all proper procedures were followed.

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That second part of the answer - which can be unpacked only with some deep familiarity with the origins of the intelligence probe, the requirements of getting Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, and whether those warrants count as "spying" - was somewhat lost behind Barr's verbiage. "And what they did was treason". And I'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated.

"You're not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?" "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities".

"What they did was treason, what they did was awful, what they did was against our constitution", Trump said without specifying who he was accusing of treason.

"I think spying did occur", Barr said, speaking to senators during a hearing on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The origins of the probe have been dated to when the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned that Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had told an Australian diplomat over drinks that the Russians had obtained information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Mark Warner, a leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a tweet said that Barr "giving a wink and a nod to this long-debunked "spying" conspiracy theory is irresponsible". He says that he's putting a team together of people at the Justice Department to look into this. The FBI used electronic surveillance on Carter Page for the same goal.

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