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Democrats Furious At Attorney General's 'Spying' Claim About Russia Probe


U.S. Attorney General William Barr (file photo)

Democratic lawmakers have questioned U.S. Attorney General William Barr's independence from President Donald Trump, saying his support for Trump's remarks about "spying" during the 2016 presidential election campaign undermine his position.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 10, Barr said he thought U.S. intelligence agencies conducted "spying" operations against Trump's 2016 election campaign team.

"I think spying did occur," Barr told Congress, without presenting evidence.

In later testimony, Barr appeared to backtrack -- saying he wasn't certain that any wrongdoing occurred and was only interested in ensuring proper procedures were followed.

"The question is whether it was adequately predicated, and I am not suggesting that it wasn't adequately predicated," he said.

Barr's appearance before the committee was his second in Congress since Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his report on March 22 about Russian interference in the U.S. election.

Barr has not yet released the nearly 400-page report, but he has summarized the findings in a four-page letter to Congress that was made public on March 24.

Democrats have said his summary is not enough. They have expressed concerns that Barr, recently appointed by Trump, is attempting to cover up negative findings about the president.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Associated Press after Barr's testimony she was "very concerned" about his handling of Mueller's report.

She also accused Barr of doing Trump's political bidding in his testimony at the April 10 Senate hearing.

"He is not the attorney general of Donald Trump. He is the attorney general of the United States," Pelosi said. "I don't trust Barr. I trust Mueller."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on Barr to either produce evidence to back up his "spying" claim or retract his testimony.

"AG Barr admitted he had no evidence to support his claim that spying on the Trump campaign 'did occur,'" Schumer said in a Twitter post.

"AG Barr must retract his statement immediately or produce specific evidence to back it up," Schumer added. "Perpetuating conspiracy theories is beneath the office of the Attorney General."

Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Fox News that Barr's loyalties had been compromised.

"He is acting as an employee of the president," Hoyer said. "I believe the attorney general believes he needs to protect the president of the United States."

Trump, who has previously raised the spying allegation without presenting any evidence, said on April 10 that the investigation into possible links between his campaign team and Russia was an "attempted coup," and "an attempted takedown of a president."

"What they did was treason, what they did was terrible, what they did was against our constitution," Trump said without specifying who he was accusing of treason.

Barr has said that Mueller's full report on his investigation, minus some redactions, will be presented to Congress next week.

Pressure is now mounting on the attorney general ahead of his release of a version of Mueller's report.

In her remarks to the Associated Press, Pelosi amplified demands from lawmakers to see the full document, adding that it was only a "matter of time" before the full report is made public.

"We will see it," she said.

With reporting by Mark Najarian in Washington, AP, Reuters, Fox News, The New York Times, and CNN
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