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Attorney general says 'I think spying did occur' on Trump's campaign

13 April 2019

Calling out House Judiciary Democrats for putting Attorney General William Barr in a legal and political catch-22 on releasing special counsel Robert Mueller's report, the top Republican on the committee is daring Dems to move on impeachment or bring in Mueller to testify publicly. Barr released to the public a four-page summary of its principal conclusions two days after Mueller submitted his report, but many Democrats have called for the full report to be released.

But Barr sparred with House Democrats who pressed him on why he would not release grand jury material or provide the full, unredacted Mueller report to Congress.

The FBI's July 2016 counterintelligence investigation was formally opened by anti-Trump former FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Barr was loath to provide many details other than to say that the Justice Department planned to release the redacted report in the next week.

"We've done everything we could for the last weeks and weeks to try to reach an accommodation with the attorney general under which we would see the report and the underlying evidence", Nadler said.

"I believe that our country must respond to any foreign interference with the strongest measures, and we must work with partners at the state level to ensure that our election infrastructure is completely protected", his statement says. His review is separate from a Justice Department inspector general investigation into the early days of the FBI's Russian Federation probe, which Barr said he expects to conclude sometime around May or June.

Barr's reference to "spying" may refer to a secret surveillance warrant that the Federal Bureau of Investigation obtained in the fall of 2016 to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing and has denied being a Russian spy.

The Department of Justice offered Mueller to review the March 24 letter, but the special counsel declined, according to Barr.

"I haven't seen the referrals yet from Congressman Nunes, but obviously if there is a predicate for an investigation it will be conducted", Barr said.

Critics of the Russian Federation investigation say the warrant on Page was unjustified and have also seized on anti-Trump text messages sent and received by one of the lead agents involved in investigating whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russian Federation.

He falsely claimed that the Mueller report had found "no obstruction".

The announcement comes after Barr on Tuesday told members of Congress he was reviewing the Department of Justice's "conduct" during the summer of 2016.

Though he said the document will be redacted to withhold negative information about peripheral figures in the investigation, he said that would not apply to Trump, who is an officeholder and central to the probe.

Attorney general says 'I think spying did occur' on Trump's campaign