For anyone still wondering whether Trump’s hand-picked attorney general, William Barr, plans to fairly assess the Mueller report after the investigation into allegations that the Trump 2016 campaign colluded with Kremlin operatives, as well as Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice in that investigation, his “spying comments in front of Congress answered that definitely. It was perhaps not as definitively, though, as Trump would have liked, so his campaign is now fundraising over inflated wording of that claim.
Trump campaign email: “Just this week, Attorney General William Barr said what the President has thought all along, he believes ‘unlawful spying did occur’ against Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign…” pic.twitter.com/5jpyfZhErv
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 13, 2019
Barr’s comments were shocking to anyone who has seen the evidence and the very legal FISA warrant that was used to surveil Carter Page, a man Trump said was not part of his campaign until he could use him as a deflection from the investigation. However, they weren’t quite as shocking as Trump wants his voters and donors to believe.
In a campaign fundraising email, the Trump campaign said that:
‘Just this week, Attorney General William Barr said what the President thought all along, he believes that “unlawful spying did occur” against Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.’
While Barr’s comment was outrageous, he never said that the “spying” he believes happened was “illegal.” In fact, what he said to the Senate Appropriations Committee was:
‘I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that…I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That’s all’
In other words, Barr was following the orders of the president by saying that surveillance of people who were clearly working as agents of hostile foreign governments with a warrant signed by Barr’s current deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was “spying.” To mitigate the use of that word, Barr acknowledged that the “spying” might have been legal.
In other words, it was legal surveillance, not “spying.” It certainly, according to all of the evidence provided to the public thus far, was in no way illegal.
Trump’s supporters seem to enjoy being lied to, so it’s unlikely that they’ll question this particular lie. Trump’s use of it as a campaign fundraising effort, however, shows that Barr’s comments were politically motivated and entirely out of line.
Twitter responded to the news with more exasperation than surprise, since Trump making things up out of thin air is more an expectation these days than a shock. Read some of their comments below: