Attorney General Bill Barr said Wednesday that he had “people in the department helping me” examine intelligence actions in 2016 related to the Trump campaign.
Barr’s revelation came during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in response to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who asked if Barr had tasked staff “to look into whether spying by the FBI and other agencies on the Trump campaign was properly predicated, and can Congress expect a formal report on your findings?”
Barr confirmed that he does “have people in the department helping me review the activities over the summer of 2016.”
While the attorney general said it was “a little early” to commit to briefing Congress on his findings, “I envision some kind of reporting at the end of this.”
Grassley’s question followed up on Barr’s comment during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee in early April that “I think spying did occur” on the Trump campaign.
Democrats were outraged by the implication in Barr’s use of the word “spying.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), for example, said “this type of partisan talking point may please Donald Trump, who rails against a ‘deep state coup,’ but it also strikes another destructive blow to our democratic institutions.”
But Barr, reportedly, was intentional in his use of the word.
Later, after asking Barr about Carter Page, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) asked “was any other Trump campaign official under surveillance [in 2016] to your knowledge?”
“These are the things that I need to look at,” Barr responded. “I have to say, as I’ve said before, to the extent there was any overreach, I believe it was a few people in the upper echelons of the [FBI] and perhaps the Department [of Justice] but those people are no longer there.”
Barr: "I do have people in the department helping me review the activities over the summer of 2016." pic.twitter.com/ITsvPZ2SjL
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) May 1, 2019
This post has been updated.