Attorney General William Barr said that spying on Trump Campaign in 2016 “did occur” while testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, April 10.
“I think spying did occur, yes. I think spying did occur,” he confirmed when Sen. Shaheen asked if he suggested that spying occurred.
But he rebutted the reports that he had assembled a team to review the origins of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016.
“I haven’t set up a team yet. But I do have in mind having some colleagues to help me pull all this information together and let me know whether there’s some areas that should be looked at,” he stated.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: “It was an attempted coup.” On Wednesday, President Trump blasted the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election as an “attempted takedown of a president.” pic.twitter.com/UkSiasGZWe
— WWAY News (@WWAY) April 10, 2019
“This is not launching an investigation of the FBI. Frankly, to the extent there were any issues at the FBI, I do not view it as a problem that’s endemic to the FBI. I think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders there,” he emphasized.
“I don’t like to hear attacks about the FBI because I think the FBI is an outstanding organization,” he added.
‘Spying on a Political Campaign is a Big Deal’
During the hearing, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) questioned Barr on the alleged special team. “News just broke today that you have a special team looking into why the FBI opened an investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 elections. I wonder if you can share with this committee who’s on that team? Why you felt the need to form that kind of team and what you intend to be the scope of their investigation?”
Barr replied that he wants to pull everything together from the various investigations at the Capitol and in the Justice Department and see if there are any remaining questions to be addressed.
“As I said in my confirmation hearing, I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016. And a lot of this has already been investigated, and a substantial portion of it has been investigated and is being investigated by the office of Inspector General,” he explained.
When asked why he felt a need to do that, he said: “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal.”
Watchdog Probe to Wrap Up by May or June
During the first day of the 2-day hearing, Barr said on April 9 that the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general will complete his investigation into potential surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign by May or June.
So, it has now been determined, by 18 people that truly hate President Trump, that there was No Collusion with Russia. In fact, it was an illegal investigation that should never have been allowed to start. I fought back hard against this Phony & Treasonous Hoax!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 10, 2019
He revealed the expected release date of the watchdog report in testimony to lawmakers during a House budget hearing on April 9, after Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) asked the attorney general how it came to be that a “salacious and unverified dossier” was used to spy on an American citizen.
Aderholt was referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant the FBI used to surveil former Trump campaign associate Carter Page over the course of a year. The bureau used the then-unverified and now-debunked Steele dossier, funded by the Clinton campaign, as the rationale for the warrant.
“The office of the inspector general has a pending investigation of the FISA process in the Russian investigation and I expect that to be completed probably in May or June, I am told,” Barr responded. “So, hopefully, we’ll have some answers from Inspector General Horowitz on the issue of the FISA warrants.”
Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.