Attorney General William Barr told a Senate committee on Wednesday morning several intelligence agencies in 2016 launched anti-Trump spying efforts. During the hearing, Barr blew the lid off of how members of the Obama administration launched these efforts into then-candidate Trump.
Check it out, from the Federalist:
While it is important that the top law enforcement in the United States publicly acknowledged that the Obama administration and its intelligence agencies surveilled its domestic political opponents during the heat of a presidential election, it is what he said next that was most startling: that the CIA and other federal agencies in addition to the FBI may have been involved. “I’m not talking about the FBI necessarily, but intelligence agencies more broadly,” he said.
The FBI, which has incredibly friendly relations with the media, has taken the brunt of the public outcry against the anti-Trump operation. That project included the use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, national security letters, human informants, and strategic leaking to craft a narrative of treasonous collusion with Russia to steal an election from Hillary Clinton. It even included leaks of classified records from former FBI director James Comey, which he said was done for the purpose of launching a special counsel investigation as retaliation for his firing.
During the hearing, Barr also said: “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal.”
As the Washington Post reports, Barr was pressed again on his decision to use the word “spying” by Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
“You’re not suggesting that spying occurred?” she added.
“I think spying did occur, yes. I think spying did occur,” Barr reiterated via the report. “I need to explore that. I also want to make clear this is not launching an investigation of the FBI. Frankly, to the extent that there were any issues at the FBI, I do not view it as a problem that’s endemic to the FBI. I think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders there in the upper echelon.”
Here’s more, from the Washington Post:
Current and former law enforcement officials have said the Russia investigation began in late July 2016 with an examination of George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser whose statements and behavior raised suspicions among diplomats and intelligence officials.
Republicans, however, have alleged that the FBI began looking at Trump associates even earlier, relying on weak or phony evidence. Notably, they have accused FBI officials of placing too much faith in a dossier of claims gathered by a former British intelligence officer whose sources claimed that Trump and some of those close to him were in thrall to Russian officials.
The FBI and Justice Department applied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in October 2016 to monitor the communications of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. Those applications were reauthorized, and the surveillance continued into mid-2017. The Justice Department inspector general is probing whether those applications were handled properly, and his report on the issue could come in May or June, Barr said.
And, even more, from the Federalist:
There have always been indications that the operation went far beyond the FBI, however. For example, former CIA director John Brennan, now an MSNBC contributor, separately briefed Sen. Harry Reid, (D-Nev.) about the operation. Reid understood that move was undertaken so he could publicize the Russia investigation to influence the ongoing presidential election campaign.
Former director of national intelligence James Clapper, now a CNN contributor, admitted to discussions with media outlets about the investigation. The U.S. embassy in London was used contrary to established protocol to funnel hearsay that was used as a pretext to officially launch a wide-ranging investigation against the entire Trump orbit. Clinton-connected officials in the State Department were also used to disseminate unverified gossip and allegations about Trump throughout the federal government.
The use of covert individuals to surreptitiously obtain information on private American citizens and share it with the government is the most obvious publicly known indication that agencies beyond the FBI may have been intimately involved in the operation.