President Trump: I have not seen or read the Mueller report

Saul Bowman
April 11, 2019

As you've heard, on Wednesday morning, Attorney General William Barr made the remarkable claim that the Trump campaign might have been the target of "spying" by law enforcement during the 2016 campaign.

"Spying on a political campaign is a big deal", Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Now that the Russian Federation investigation has wrapped up, Barr intends to review the origins of the FBI's investigation of the campaign. After a pause, Barr replied in the affirmative: "I think spying did occur".

"You're not suggesting that spying occurred?"

'As I said in my confirmation hearing, I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016, ' said Barr.

"I feel an obligation to make sure government power is not abused", Barr said.

Asked if he believed the Mueller probe was a witch hunt, Barr would only say: "It really depends where you are sitting".

Trump told reporters Wednesday he hasn't seen it, and doesn't care to. Barr said he expects to release a redacted copy of Mueller's report next week, and Democrats have repeatedly expressed concern that his version will hide wrongdoing by the president.

Barr was responding to a question from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who asked the attorney general about his position on the proposed Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act. He says he's looking forward to explaining his reasoning after he releases a redacted version of Mueller's 400-page report in the coming days.

Mr Trump described the investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller as "an attempted coup". Barr said that in his judgement there was no obstruction - a finding that opposition Democrats quickly questioned.

Barr said that he will not be investigating the entire Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Although he was non-specific about what he was referring to by spying, Barr mentioned the intelligence community. The one possible exception he left open: If the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees wanted to see the full report, Barr seems to suggest he would be willing to talk to them about that.

Applications to reauthorize the surveillance continued into the Trump administration and two were signed by Trump appointees, suggesting that the collection yielded enough foreign intelligence to merit the subsequent requests to keep it going.

The origins of the probe have been dated to when the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned that Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos had told an Australian diplomat over drinks that the Russians had obtained information on Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz is now investigating whether or not federal investigators abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in order to get a warrant to investigate former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

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