Attorney General William Barr shocked a group of senators at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday, telling them that he believes spying against the Trump campaign did indeed take place in 2016.
“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr said when asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) why he was investigating the FBI’s counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign.
“The generation I grew up in, which is the Vietnam War period, people were all concerned about spying on anti-war people ans so-forth by the government. And there were a lot of rules put in place to make sure that there’s an adequate basis before our law enforcement agencies get involved in political surveillance.”
Shaheen pressed Barr about the allegation in a follow-up question. “You’re not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?” she asked.
“I think spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated,” Barr replied. “I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicted, but I need to explore that.”
The attorney general first discussed his plans to investigate the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence investigation against Trump campaign associates during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, yesterday. Barr said he intends to “pull together all the information from the various investigations that have gone on, including on the Hill and in the Department.”
The bureau opened the investigation code-named Crossfire Hurricane using confidential informants (spies) like Stephan Halper and relying heavily on the unverified, Democrat-funded Steele dossier. Halper, a former Cambridge professor, snooped on at least three Trump campaign advisers, Carter Page, Sam Clovis and George Papadopoulos.
Joseph Mifsud, another suspected informant who had contacts with Papadopoulos, is a Maltese academic whom the media described as “Kremlin-linked.” However, as Lee Smith reported at RealClearInvestigations, Mifsud’s closest ties are to “Western governments, politicians, and institutions, including the CIA, FBI and British intelligence services.”
During the hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Barr if he found it odd that the FBI didn’t inform Trump that it was concerned that his campaign was being targeted by a foreign entity.
“That is one of the questions I have,” Barr answered. “I feel normally, the campaign would have been advised of this.”
When asked why he thought they were not apprised, Barr said, “I’m interested in getting that answer. They had two U.S. attorneys in Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani involved in the campaign and I can’t understand why the campaign was not advised.”
Graham pointed out that Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was briefed when the FBI discovered that she had a Chinese spy working on her staff.
Feinstein, who was compromised by the a staffer for decades, incidentally, has a long history of lobbying on behalf of China’s interests.
After being alerted to the staffer’s ties to the Chinese government, Feinstein finally fired the staffer.
“I would say brief the target of the foreign espionage activity,” he said.
So you’re pledging to this committee, and I guess to the country as a whole, is to find out what happened with the warrant application, find out about the counterintelligence investigation to make sure that the law was followed, and if there was any abuse of the law to report to the congress and the public. Is that accurate?
“That’s accurate,” Barr answered. “I want to satisfy myself that there was no abuse of law enforcement of intelligence powers.”
Barr told Graham that if he’s been the attorney general in that situation, he would have done the same thing.
“That’s what I would do if I were the attorney general in that situation,” Barr answered.