Washington: US President Donald Trump on Thursday (local time) backed Attorney General William Barr’s comments on possible “spying” into his campaign in 2016, saying it was “absolutely true” that there was “unprecedented” snooping.
“I think what he said was absolutely true. There was absolutely spying into my campaign. In my opinion, it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying and something that should never be allowed to happen in our country again,” The Hill quoted Trump as saying during his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Oval Office.
Reiterating his call for an investigation into the origins of the investigation of his 2016 campaign, Trump termed the alleged surveillance as “treason” and said that it would be a “disservice” to the country if Barr’s claims were not looked into.
“You’re just lucky I happened to be the president because a lot of other presidents would have reacted much differently than I reacted. You’re very lucky I was the president during this scam,” he said.
On Wednesday, Barr had said that he was looking into FBI’s efforts to probe Trump’s campaign members before the 2016 presidential election, adding that he believes “spying” took place.
“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,” he had said during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.
“I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016. A lot of this has already been investigated and a substantial portion that’s being investigated is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the department,” he had added.
Later, Barr tried to clarify his stance, saying that he was concerned that “improper surveillance” may have taken place in 2016 and he was “looking into it”.
“I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That’s all,” he had said.
On Tuesday, Barr had announced that he will make public special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election “within a week”.
Testifying before a House Appropriations subcommittee on the Justice Department’s fiscal 2020 budget request, Barr underlined that some modifications would be made to the 400-page report to make some portions colour-coded and footnoted, so that the public will get to know why the Justice Department decided to make such a move.
On March 24, Barr had submitted his principal conclusions from Mueller’s 22-month long investigation into alleged Russia interference in the 2016 elections to the US Congress.
While Mueller stated that Trump and his associates did not conspire with Russians, he has not completely exonerated the US President. The special counsel did not “make a traditional prosecutorial judgment” in his report, according to Barr.