Attorney General Bill Barr on Wednesday defended his use of the word “spying” to refer to authorized activities by U.S. officials.
“I’m not going to abdure the use of the word ‘spying,’” Barr told Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when asked if had ever used it before in an official capacity. “My first job was in CIA and I don’t think the word ‘spying’ has any pejorative connotation at all.”
Barr outraged Democrats when he said in April that “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016. On Wednesday, in response to a question from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Barr said “I do have people in the department helping me review the activities over the summer of 2016.”
“To me the question is always whether or not its authorized and adequately predicated, spying,” Barr added.
He continued: “I think spying is a good English word that in fact doesn’t have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating all forms of covert intelligence collection.”
Barr said he’s used the word “frequently, as do media.”
The attorney general said his use of the word was “off-the-cuff.”
When Whitehouse challenged Barr, saying the word was “not commonly used by the department,” the attorney general was nonchalant.
“It’s commonly used by me,” he said.
Barr defends his use of the word "spying" pic.twitter.com/qav7d9SSug
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) May 1, 2019