Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday said he believes the FBI spied on President Trump's 2016 campaign.
Barr while testifying before Congress was questioned about reports that he'll be launching an investigation into the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe. Asked why he feels the need to do so, Barr said it's because he thinks "spying on a political campaign is a big deal."
When Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) asked if he's suggesting spying on the campaign occurred, Barr responded that yes, he "think[s] spying did occur." He said he hopes to get to the bottom of whether this surveillance was "predicated," although he's "not suggesting that it wasn't."
Trump and other Republicans have repeatedly claimed that law enforcement improperly obtained a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The warrant was obtained after Page left the Trump campaign, notes Politico's Kyle Cheney. Barr said Wednesday he believes there was "probably a failure among a group of leaders there in the upper echelon" and that he is not blaming the FBI as a whole, per The Washington Post.
Later, when asked to clarify what he means by spying, Barr said he's talking about "unauthorized surveillance," which The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand observes may suggest he's "not talking about FISA warrants," since those are court-authorized. Barr also said he has "no specific evidence that I can cite right now" about wrongdoing by the FBI, per CNN's Manu Raju, but that "there is a basis for my concern." Brendan Morrow