For quite some time, there have been allegations that Obama-era intelligence officers were politically motivated during the 2016 presidential election and spied on the Trump campaign. While Democrats have completely dismissed this potentially serious abuse of power, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr testified this week that he suspects misconduct of federal authorities did in fact occur.
Attorney General Barr told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday:
“I think spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated. And I'm not suggesting that it wasn't adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.
I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. ... There were 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 those rules were violated, but I think it's important to look at that."
Furthermore, as the Wall Street Journal points out, the Attorney General has already begun reviewing actions of the FBI regarding misuse of FISA warrants and of “intelligence agencies more broadly.”
Mr. Barr said he also wants to know why the Trump campaign wasn’t notified of the FBI’s concerns, as would “normally” happen. He praised the “outstanding” FBI rank and file, saying that “to the extent there were any issues” it was “probably a failure among a group of leaders there at the upper echelon.”
Mr. Barr has access to documents that the Justice Department has kept from Congress. Ranking House Intelligence Republican Devin Nunes is also sending Mr. Barr eight criminal referrals from his own investigation, including evidence of lying to Congress and manipulating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. By late spring Mr. Barr may also receive DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review of FBI actions in 2016 and 2017.
All of this should be encouraging to Americans who want credibility restored to an FBI that lost its ethical bearings under James Comey.
Attorney General Barr’s testimony serves as a reassurance to the American people that the U.S. Attorney General’s office will pursue investigations of FBI misconduct and will work to reestablish integrity in our government which is vital to a nation’s trust in its democratic elections.