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Barr: Government May Have Put 'Thumb on the Scale'

Attorney general repeats 'spying' allegation in regard to Trump campaign
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2019 1:25 PM CDT
President Trump talks with Attorney General William Barr during the 38th Annual National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the US Capitol, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – The attorney general took flak from Democrats last month when he asserted that "spying" on the Trump campaign occurred in 2016. On Friday, William Barr made clear that he meant exactly what he said. “Government power was used to spy on American citizens,” Barr told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.” In that interview and another with Fox News, Barr defended the decision to open his own investigation into the origins of the Russia inquiry, and he used similar wording in both. To the Journal: "Just like we need to ensure that foreign actors don’t influence the outcome of our elections, we need to ensure that the government doesn’t use its powers to put a thumb on the scale.”

And to Fox: "We should be worried about whether government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale, and so I'm not saying that happened. But I'm saying that we have to look at that." Barr said the inquiry could result in new rules on counterintelligence investigations in regard to political campaigns, though he didn't elaborate. He also called the accusation that he lied to Congress "laughable," per Politico. His boss, meanwhile, raised his own rhetoric on the subject. "My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on," President Trump tweeted Friday. "Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!" (This week, Barr and Pelosi joked about the attorney general's potential arrest.)

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