Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse attempted to shame Attorney General Bill Barr during testimony on Wednesday morning for using the term "spying" to describe FBI actions against the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election. It didn't work.
"I'm not going to abjure the use of the word spying. My first job was in the CIA and I don't think the word spying as any pejorative connotation at all. To me the question is always whether or not it's authorized and adequately predicated, spying. I think spying a good English word that in fact doesn't have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating all forms of covert intelligence collection so I'm not going to back off the word spying," Barr said, adding he uses the term frequently.
"Frankly we went back and looked at press usage and up until all the faux outrage a few weeks ago, it's commonly used in the press to refer to authorized activity," Barr continued. "It's commonly used by me."
Attorney General Barr says criticism of his use of the word "spying" to describe investigative activity is "faux outrage." pic.twitter.com/HruomLYQ0B— Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) May 1, 2019
Barr pressed on the use of the word "spying" because "it's not commonly used by the department."— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) May 1, 2019
His answer: "Well, it's commonly used by me." pic.twitter.com/MzdosI3TIH
During a House hearing in April, Barr rattled Democrats the first time by saying spying did in fact occur against the Trump campaign.
"I think spying did occur," Barr said at the time. "I'm not talking about the FBI necessarily, but intelligence agencies more broadly."
"I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. I'm not suggesting those rules were violated but I think it's important to look at that," he continued. "The question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated, and I'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated, but I need to explore that."
Attorney General Bill Barr says spying on the Trump campaign "did occur." But the question, he says, was it "adequately predicated?" He's conducting an investigation to find out. https://t.co/Zi823UT9w2 pic.twitter.com/qe5SJ6UaNT— Justin Fishel (@JustinFishelABC) April 10, 2019