William Barr claims to believe ‘spying did occur’ against the Trump campaign. Here’s how he’s twisting the truth to boost the president

William Barr claims to believe ‘spying did occur’ against the Trump campaign. Here’s how he’s twisting the truth to boost the president
William Barr/Screengrab
William Barr/Screengrab

President Donald Trump has long claimed that the Barack Obama Administration spied on his presidential campaign in 2016. And when Attorney General William Barr testified on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, he asserted, “Yes, I think spying did occur” against the Trump campaign. Barr,  however, didn't offer any proof.

Trump supporters will likely view Barr’s assertion as a victory for the president, who insisted that the Obama Administration was out to get him three years ago. And the attorney general’s testimony will inspire conversations over the role that Republican Carter Page played in Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The 47-year-old Page, a petroleum industry consultant, served as a foreign policy advisor for Trump’s 2016 campaign—and that year, U.S. intelligence officials investigated alleged communications between Page and Russian oligarchs (including Igor Sechin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin who served as head of the Russian state oil company Rosneft). Page resigned from the Trump campaign when headlines described his alleged Russian ties.

After Trump was sworn in as president, Page was investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team—although Page was never charged with anything. In July 2018, the U.S. Justice Department released a very redacted version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application for Page from October 2016. The warrant expressed the FBI’s fear that Page and others in the Trump campaign were communicating with people in the Russian government.

However, Page was on the FBI’s radar long before Trump’s 2016 campaign. CNN’s Marshall Cohen, in an April 10 tweet, noted that “years before Trump ran, there was a FISA on Page because of his extensive ties to actual Russian spies who tried to recruit him.”

This week, Barr has also been discussing Mueller’s final report for the Russia investigation, which concluded in March. Barr has said he plans to release the report in a redacted form, and Democrats in Congress are demanding to see the report in its entirety.


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