On Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the second day of hearings where members of Congress had a chance to ask the man various questions about his department’s budget, supposedly. For a budgetary hearing, the Affordable Care Act came up a lot, but so did the report recently concluded by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and the charge that the government under the Obama Administration spied on the then-candidate Donald J. Trump operation.
The Attorney General answered affirmatively that spying did indeed occur.
After that shocking admission, the Democrats in the Senate, and some in the House of Representatives, as well as members of the mainstream media demanded proof that this was the case. The Washington Examiner’s staff chronicled the frenzy.
Tim O’Brien of Bloomberg compared Barr to Roy Cohn, the notorious chief counsel of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s hearings into suspected communists in the 1950s and later Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Cohn was “a ruthless and sleazy attack dog who taught Trump how to weaponize the legal system,” and Barr was “trying” to be like him, O’Brien said.
He took issue with the use of the word “spying” by Barr, though the attorney general made it clear that he had made no judgment on whether it was legal or not.
“Spying is cloak-and-daggerish and, when it doesn’t involve foreign governments trying to game and surveil one another, it feels untoward. It’s your neighbor looking into your bedroom window, … it’s all sort of dirty,” he wrote, adding: “Saying you’re looking into spying prejudices the perspective and prejudices the conversation.”
The Washington Post also joined the pile-on. Aaron Blake wrote in an analysis article that Barr’s testimony was “highly questionable” and cited fired FBI Director James Comey and Jim Clapper, former director of national intelligence — both outspoken Trump critics.
Blake wrote that Comey had characterized FBI scrutiny of the Trump campaign as “simply an information-gathering effort.” He added that when asked whether the FBI had spied on the Trump’s campaign, Clapper had responded: “No, they were not.”
Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post called via Twitter for Barr to be impeached. She then elaborated in an article headlined “William Barr, Trump toady” that Barr was using “the language of a PR spinner, not the attorney general of the United States.” She lamented Barr’s use of the “spying” as a “loaded phrase and a political accusation.”
Following this barrage of anti-Barr rhetoric, the editor of the Washington Examiner himself appeared on Fox News programming to affirm Barr’s assertion.
Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York said Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr was speaking in “fact” when he said he thought federal authorities had spied on the Trump presidential campaign.
“It’s set off this this firestorm of reaction. But what the attorney general said was accurate when he said, ‘I think spying did occur,’ and the question whether … it was adequately predicated,” York said on “Special Report.”
“And the fact is, the FBI wiretapped Carter Page, they monitored his electronic communications. You can look at the warrant application; it was all about the campaign. This is just actually a fact.”
Inconvenient as these facts might be, they are facts, and cannot be denied. So, when the current president said that the Obama Administration spied on him, he’s not lying.