WASHINGTON – Attorney General William Barr said he believes “spying” took place during the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
“I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated…I think it’s my obligation. Congress is usually very concerned with intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane,” Barr said at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.
Last year President Donald Trump asked DoJ to probe claims of spying after the National Review reported that the Obama administration placed an informant inside the campaign.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz launched an investigation at the request of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Evidence has yet to emerge to substantiate claims of spying.
Barr’s testimony comes as lawmakers are awaiting the release of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s final report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Barr told a House panel on Tuesday that he expects to be able to release the report “within a week.”
Barr sent a four-page summary of Mueller’s report to key lawmakers on Capitol Hill on March 24 that said the special counsel did not find any evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 22-month investigation.
In his letter, Barr said that while Mueller’s report did not uncover any evidence that Trump may have broken the law, “it also does not exonerate him.”
Last week The New York Times reported that Barr painted an over-optimistic picture of Mueller’s findings in the summary. The Times spoke with individuals believed to be involved in the drafting of the report.