"I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal", he said. Barr shared this conclusion and the fact that Mueller had declined to decide whether Trump had obstructed justice while he laid out the evidence for and against such a charge; and then the attorney general interjected his own opinion, saying that he had separately concluded that Trump did not obstruct justice.
"I think spying did occur".
Attorney General William Barr, however, chose to not echo the president while he was delivering testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
But Barr later backed down from these apparently eye-popping claims, saying: "I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said", wrote the New York Times. The redacted report should be released sometime next week.
A person familiar with the process said Barr is forming a team to review the origins of the FBI investigation.
Asked if he believed the Mueller probe was a witch hunt, Barr would only say: "It really depends where you are sitting".More news: AG William Barr testifies to House Appropriations subcommittee
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. "I turned it down", Caputo said on Tuesday. Although the Department of Justice shot that down in 2017, agreeing that there was no evidence to support this, Barr, the new leader of the DOJ, seems to believe "unauthorized surveillance" may have occurred.
We also know that key FBI agents involved in the investigation were fiercely opposed to Trump.
Barr's comments on Wednesday are also more in line with President Donald Trump's expressed views on the topic. "But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated - and I'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated".
Later, Barr said he would prefer that approach "than where we are now", which he characterized as an "intolerable" situation because of the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws.
That reference to selective editing, of course, concerns special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's report, which Barr has pledged to release within a week, but with some redactions, and without turning over the full report to Congress.
Barr noted much of this has been done already, both in Congress and by the Justice Department inspector general, but that he will pull it all together to see if there may be "remaining questions to be addressed".
It was Hillary Clinton's campaign, as well as the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which had hired Fusion GPS-through their law firm Perkins Coie-to produce the dossier.