Comey scoffs at Barr testimony, claims ‘surveillance’ is not ‘spying’

Former FBI Director James Comey joined the chorus of Democratic critics complaining about Attorney General Bill Barr’s testimony this week that “spying did occur” against the 2016 Trump campaign, claiming he has no idea what the Justice Department leader is talking about -- and saying he “never thought of” electronic surveillance as “spying.”

Comey sought to draw a distinction between surveillance -- which was authorized against a Trump adviser -- and spying during a cybersecurity conference in California on Thursday, echoing Democratic lawmakers who have accused Barr of going too far in his Senate testimony this week.

“I have no idea what he’s talking about so it’s hard for me to comment,” Comey said.

“When I hear that kind of language used, it’s concerning because the FBI and the Department of Justice conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance,” he continued. “I have never thought of that as spying.”

He added: “If the attorney general has come to the belief that that should be called spying, wow.”

“That’s going to require a whole lot of conversations inside the Department of Justice. But I don’t know what he meant,” Comey said.

Before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday, Barr testified that he believes “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign, adding, “the question is whether it was adequately predicated.” Barr said he believed it was his “obligation” to review where there was any misconduct in the intelligence gathering during the origins of the Russia investigation.


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