Attorney General William Barr told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday that he believes intelligence agencies spied on the Trump campaign during the 2016 Presidential election.
“For the same reason we’re worried about foreign influence in elections…spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr told Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
“You’re not suggesting that spying occurred?” Shaheen asked.
“Yes. I think spying did occur,” Barr said.
Barr said he is not necessarily launching an investigation on the FBI, but that he wants to review the “genesis and the conduct” of the FBI’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, and whether any rules were violated.
“Congress is usually concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane and I want to make sure that happened,” he said.
In a New York Times story last May, FBI officials admitted to extensively surveilling Trump campaign affiliates, including Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and George Papadopoulos.
“The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters—a secret type of subpoena—officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said,” wrote the New York Times.
As Mollie Hemingway pointed out last year, the Times and other media enablers did their best to soften the news of the FBI’s misconduct. The Times wrote that prosecutors simply, “obtained court approval to eavesdrop on Mr. Page.”
The Washington Post even went so far as to say the FBI was only spying as a way to protect the Trump campaign. “Relying on a covert source rather than a more intrusive method of gathering information suggests that the FBI may have been acting cautiously—perhaps too cautiously—to protect the campaign, not undermine it,” wrote Asha Rangappa.
Barr said he also plans to review the criminal referrals that House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced on Sunday he would be sending to Barr. Nunes said five of the referrals give names and specific crimes, including lying to Congress, misleading Congress, and leaking classified material.