Attorney General William Barr is testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee today. A little while ago, he talked about the subject of spying on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Barr stated:
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 has already been investigated. . .by the office of the Inspector General. But one of the things I want to do is pull everything together from the various investigations that have gone on.
Barr added, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”
Democrats can hardly deny that statement. But Sen. Jeanne Shaheen asked, “You’re not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?”
I think spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated. I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that
Spying on the Trump campaign certainly occurred. The CIA used at least one informer to collect information about it. The FBI used electronic surveillance on Carter Page for the same purpose. Page had left the campaign, but could reasonably be expected still to communicate with it.
Moreover, the authorization to wire tap Page was predicated on a dossier that was all about Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. I assume that when Barr spoke of exploring whether the spying on the Trump campaign was “adequately predicated,” he was referring at least in part to the reasons presented to the FISA court for authorizing electronic surveillance of Page.
Sen. Jack Reed pressed Barr, asking whether he has “specific evidence of anything improper in the counterintelligence investigation of the 2016 election.” Barr’s answer won’t comfort either Democrats or those behind the spying:
I have no specific evidence that I would cite right now. I do have questions about it.
To be continued, or so I hope.