Attorney General Tells Senate: 'Spying Did Occur' Against Trump Campaign

Attorney General William Barr looks over toward Assistant Attorney General for Administration Lee J. Lofthus left as they appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill Tuesday

Barr told a House appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday he was reviewing the conduct of the FBI's investigation in mid-2016, and the Justice Department inspector general will issue a report in May or June.

'I am not suggesting those rules were violated, but I think it is important to look at that.

Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Barr responded, "I'm not sure of all the connotations of that word that you're referring to, but you know - unauthorized surveillance".

It's unclear what "spying" Barr was pointing to, beyond the fact that law enforcement did undertake an investigation of Russian interference and possible conspiracy with it. Trump has made many extremely lurid variations of the same claim, including suggesting that former president Barack Obama ordered his phone tapped.

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation employees deserve better from their leader.

"You can hire an attorney general who has applied for the job by telling you why he thinks the case against you is bogus", Schiff continued. Barr said at a House hearing Tuesday that the report was coming "within a week".

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His reference during a congressional hearing to spying in the early days of the federal Russian Federation investigation echoed longstanding allegations by Trump and fellow Republicans that cast doubt on the origins of the probe in an apparent attempt to discredit Mueller, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The attorney general will release the Mueller report to Congress and the public within the next week.

"Once the report is out I'm happy to discuss the process", Barr said. The attorney general's testimony on Wednesday confirmed they have an ally at the Justice Department who may help with reviving questions about investigators' practices now that the worst political peril from Mueller apparently has passed. He was testifying for a second day at a congressional budget hearing that was dominated by questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation.

"I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of the intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016", Barr said. He said that the letter may have been read to them, but they did not get a hard copy of it. The president did not name them but has previously blamed Justice Department officials and former FBI Director James Comey.

Spying on the Trump campaign certainly occurred.

Barr told senators on Wednesday that he believed the Trump campaign had been spied on, but "the question is whether it was adequately predicated".

Republican Representative Robert Aderholt of Alabama asked Barr during Tuesday's hearing if the Justice Department is investigating "how it came to be that your agency used a salacious and unverified dossier as a predicate for FISA order on a USA citizen?"

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