AG Barr says ‘spying did occur’ on Trump campaign, will investigate whether it was lawful

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Attorney General William Barr appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Attorney General William Barr testified before a Senate Panel on Wednesday that he is investigating whether improper spying by federal authorities on the Trump campaign occurred during the initial investigation into whether the campaign conspired with Russia.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated.”

He quickly added another caveat to his testimony.

“I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred,” Barr told the Senate subcommittee. “I am concerned about it. There is a basis for my concern.” 

Barr did not specify what concern sparked his review.

The IG for the Department of Justice is conducting a review into surveillance warrants officials used to spy on former campaign aide Carter Page just a month before the 2016 election.

Many Republicans have complained that the FBI targeted the Trump campaign for political reasons.

Their main evidence for this has been former FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who was taken off the Mueller investigation after it was revealed he was sending anti-Trump text messages to his co-worker girlfriend and mistress. 

Strzok was one of the leaders of the investigation into Russian meddling in the election, but also into the use of a private e-mail server by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

He was fired from the FBI in August of 2018.

So far, there has been no investigative evidence that there was a political motivation involved in the inquiry.

Barr testified before the subcommittee in advance of releasing a redacted version of the Mueller report sometime in the “next week.”

Democrats have been demanding that he release a full, unredacted report, but Barr said that there were several reasons this could not happen.

He stated the report contained grand jury information, national security material, and information that could be damming to people not charged in the investigation.

When asked if he was using the latter as an excuse to cover-up for people in public office, Barr responded that he was referring to individuals in the private sector and not anyone that held federal office.

Barr also defended his decision in finding there was not enough evidence to bring obstruction of justice charges against President Trump.

Barr said he and his deputy Rod Rosenstein independently concluded that the President’s actions were not criminal.

Democrats have already stated that they plan to have Robert Mueller testify on his findings in the investigation.

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