Attorney General Bill Barr sparred with Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Wednesday over the AG’s use of the word “spying” to describe the actions the FBI took against the Trump campaign.
Barr alleged during his testimony to the House Appropriations Committee in April that “spying did occur” against the Trump campaign as the FBI investigated alleged ties to Russia.
In addition to conducting surveillance on former Trump campaign official Carter Page, the FBI used informant Stefan Halper to make contact with three Trump campaign advisers. (RELATED: CNN Freaks Out Over Barr ‘Spying’ Testimony)
Whitehouse grilled Barr about his use of the term “spying” in relation to those efforts, suggesting that the term was not accurate because the activities of the DOJ were “authorized.”
“I’m not going to abjure the use of the word ‘spying,'” Barr said. “My first job was in CIA. I don’t think the word ‘spying’ has any pejorative connotation at all.”
Barr continued, “I think spying is a good English word that, in fact, doesn’t have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating really all forms of covert intelligence collection, so I’m not going to back off the word ‘spying.'”
To further defend his use of the word, Barr pointed out that many members of the media also used the term before they decided to attack him for doing the same.
“Frankly, we went back and looked at press usage and up until all the faux outrage a couple of weeks ago, it’s commonly used in the press to refer to authorized activities,” he explained.
“It’s not commonly used by the Department,” Whitehouse retorted.
Barr shot back, “It’s commonly used by me,” planting a smirk on his face.