U.S. Attorney General William Barr told Senate lawmakers Wednesday he believes the government spied on President Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016, and that led to the lengthy investigation into potential collusion with Russia.
Appearing before the Senate appropriations committee, Barr was asked about his order for the FBI to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, something Trump himself has asked for.
“I think spying did occur,” he said.
“For the same reason we’re worried about foreign influence in elections … I think spying on a political campaign, it’s a big deal.”
Barr said he thinks there was a failure among the “upper echelons” of government.
“I’m not talking about the FBI necessarily, but intelligence agencies more broadly,” he said. “I feel I have an obligation to make sure that government power isn’t abused.”
Barr told a House appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday he was reviewing the conduct of the FBI’s investigation in mid-2016, and the Justice Department inspector general will issue a report in May or June. Barr also said Tuesday he will release a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report next week. He said there are no plans to release an unredacted version.
Trump told reporters Wednesday he hasn’t seen it, and doesn’t care to.
“I have not seen the Mueller report. I have not read the Mueller report,” he said. “No collusion, no obstruction. I won.
“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care about the Mueller report. I’ve been totally exonerated.”
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