On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr insisted that intelligence agencies under former President Barack Obama spied on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. He did not declare that this spying was illegal, but the spying is unsettling regardless.
“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal,” Barr said in a Senate hearing on Wednesday. “There are a lot of rules put in place to make sure that there’s an adequate basis before our law enforcement agencies get involved in political surveillance. I’m not suggesting that those rules were violated but I think it’s important to look at that.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) pressed him on the issue of spying. “You’re not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?” she asked.
“I think spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur,” Barr replied. “The question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated.”
While evidence of Obama administration surveillance on the Trump campaign has been public for some time, Barr’s declaration is the clearest high-profile statement confirming that the sitting Democratic president oversaw — however remotely — spying on the Republican candidate running to replace him.
Obama has denied any involvement in the FBI requests to surveil the Trump campaign before the Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) courts, but this denial is extremely disingenuous.
Barr plans to investigate the FBI’s decision to open a counterintelligence investigation against members of the Trump campaign. The FBI relied on the notorious Steele dossier, funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.