‘I have an obligation to make sure that government power is not abused…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Attorney General William Barr told Congress on Tuesday that he believes the FBI spied on President Donald Trump’s election campaign and is opening an investigation into whether it was justified.
Barr said he had assembled a team to investigate the FBI and Department of Justice for the controversial they played in the now debunked Russia collusion hoax.
“Spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“I think spying did occur,” he said. “The question is, was it was adequately predicated? I’m not saying it wasn’t.”
Republican lawmakers have long maintained that key figures within the Obama-era intelligence community, motivated by their own bias and partisan allegiances, launched an illegal and unethical probe into the Trump campaign—likely in coordination with the campaign of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Under GOP control of the House of Representatives last session, committee chairs including Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Devin Nunes, R-Calif., led the way in investigating the alleged government abuses.
They interviewed more than 40 witnesses and collected hundreds of thousands of documents before losing the majority to Democrats in last November’s midterm elections.
Earlier in the week, Nunes submitted to Barr’s office a list of eight individuals—likely within the orbit of the DOJ and intelligence community—whom he said merited possible criminal investigation for offenses such as lying to Congress and falsifying information.
Barr’s announcement suggested that he’s taking those charges seriously.
“I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016,” Barr told the committee.
Jordan—currently the ranking minority member on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and one of Trump’s top congressional allies—praised Barr’s decision.
“That’s great news he’s looking into how this whole thing started back in 2016,” Jordan said. “That’s something that has been really important to us. It’s what we’ve been calling for.”
Graham said he would like Barr to assign a special counsel to investigate the FBI collusion, much as former FBI Director Robert Mueller did in the initial Russia collusion probe.
“Once we put the Mueller report to bed, once Barr comes to the committee and takes questions about his findings and his actions, and we get to see the Mueller report, consistent with law, then we are going to turn to finding out how this got off the rails,” Graham told Fox News last month.
However, Barr said his current actions should not be construed as a rebuke of the intelligence community as a whole.
“This is not launching an investigation of the FBI,” he said. “I think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders at the upper echelon” of the FBI. “I have an obligation to make sure that government power is not abused.”
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he’s glad Barr is “getting started on going back to the origins” of what he called “an attempted coup,” according to Bloomberg News.
Based on Barr’s March 24 summary of Mueller’s still-secret final report, which said there was insufficient evidence that the president obstructed justice, Trump declared he was “completely exonerated.”
“This was an attempted takedown of a president and we beat them,” Trump said. “What they did was treason, what they did was terrible, what they did was against our constitution.”
Asked if he believed the Mueller probe was a witch hunt, Barr would only say: “It really depends where you are sitting. It is what it is.”
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this article, with additional reporting from Agence France-Presse.