Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday he believes "spying did occur" on President Trump's 2016 campaign.
During testimony before a Senate panel, Barr said it was his obligation to ensure the government did not abuse its surveillance powers and he had set up a team to investigate whether this happened with the Trump campaign.
"I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was predicated — adequately predicated," Barr testified. "I'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated, but I need to explore that. I think it's my obligation. Congress is usually very concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane."
"I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It's a big deal," Barr said, an apparent reference to GOP allegations that the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor former Trump 2016 campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
Later in the hearing, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, asked Barr if he wanted to rephrase the "spying" comment, but Barr declined to back away from his assertion. "Unauthorized surveillance ... is that more appropriate in your eyes?" Barr said.
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