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In an interview with Fox News’s Bill Hemmer, Attorney General William “Bill” Barr expressed his concern again for spying during Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
“People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we’re worried about foreign influence for the very same reason, we should be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale. And so I’m not saying that happened, but I’m saying that we have to look at that,” Barr said.
Barr first revealed his suspicions during his Mueller Report testimony. He asserted that he thinks “spying did occur” during Trump’s campaign. In later questioning, he then added, “To me, the question is always whether or not it’s authorized and adequately predicated, spying,” and also clarified his meaning of “spying.”
“I’m not going to abjure the use of the word ‘spying.’ I think, you know, my first job was in CIA and I don’t think the word spying has any pejorative convert connotation at all…So I’m not going to back off the word spying to–except I will say… I’m not suggesting any pejorative and I use it frequently, as do media.”
To investigate further the counterintelligence operations during Trump’s campaign, Barr assigned John Durham, a United States attorney, to look further into the origin of the alleged Russian-meddling. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, was also tasked with examining the wiretap applications and the legality of those authorizations.
In answer to a question about Democratic criticism, Barr responded, “Well I think it’s a laughable charge and I think it’s largely being made to try and discredit me, partly because they may be concerned about the outcome of a review of what happened during the election… That means they may be trying to undermine my credibility but obviously you can look at the face of my testimony and see on its face that there’s nothing inaccurate about it.”
He also added that “…there’s a misconception out there that we know a lot about what happened…The fact of the matter is Bob Mueller did not look at the government’s activities. He was looking at whether or not the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russians. But he was not going back and looking at the counterintelligence program. And we have a number of investigations underway that touch upon it — the main one being the office of inspector general that’s looking at the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrants.”