Bill Barr: Of Course the FBI Used the Carter Page FISA Warrant to Spy on the Trump Campaign

Attorney General William Barr appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Attorney General William Barr appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to make his Justice Department budget request, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


It was pretty obvious yesterday that Attorney General Bill Barr and US Attorney for Connecticut John Durham were not on the same page as DOJ IG Michael Horowitz. While Barr contested the nature or the entire investigation, Durham made it very clear that Horowitz’s Creation Myth surrounding the beginning of Crossfire Hurricane simply didn’t pass the smell test (see here | here)

Back in April, Bill Barr made a lot of waves when he was asked by Senator Jean Shaheen if he thought the Trump campaign had been spied upon.

Via NBC:

Shaheen then asked, “You’re not suggesting that spying occurred?”

Barr paused for several seconds and replied, “I think spying did occur,” though he didn’t elaborate.

Today, Barr was much more definitive (see my colleague Sarah Lee’s post No Holds Barred: AG Calls Out Press, ‘Incumbent Government’ In New Interview Saying Unprecedented Spying Occurred That Could Have ‘Affected The Outcome Of An Election’).

WILLIAMS: Based on what you know so far, is it still — do you still stand by your statement that the campaign was spied upon?

BARR: Oh, it was clearly spied upon. I mean that’s what electronic surveillance is. I think wiring people up to go in and talk to people and make recordings of their conversations is spying. I think going through people’s e-mails, which they did as a result of the FISA warrant. They went through everything, you know, from — from Page’s life —

WILLIAMS: Because he wasn’t in the campaign at that point where (INAUDIBLE) begun (ph) the surveillance?

BARR: No, but — yes, but his e-mails were — go back. I mean the main reason they were going for the FISA warrant initially was to go back historically and seize all his e-mails and texts and all that stuff from back — months and even years. So they were coverage the period that he was in the campaign. And that’s exactly the reason they went for the FISA, to get that stuff.


It is also clear that he is not buying the FBI’s song and dance act that using informers wearing wires to talk to members of the Trump campaign was a legit and above board investigative technique to use against a presidential campaign.

Why is this significant? Because one of the standard lines used by the Vichy Conservatives, other that the Trump campaign was not spied upon, is that getting a FISA warrant against Carter Page was meaningless because he had departed the Trump campaign before the warrant went into effect. As Barr said, the FISA warrant allowed the FBI to access Page’s email and text messages and see exactly what the campaign was planning.

Beyond that, as I’ve noted several times, the FISA warrant did not merely allow the surveillance of Page. It is a “two hop” or “three hop” surveillance warrant. Everyone Page communicated with was subject to surveillance and everyone those people communicated with was subject to surveillance. The reason the FISA warrant was requested on Page…and renewed twice despite it producing no evidence whatsoever of Page working for or with a foreign government (easy proof-Page was not charged with any crime or used as a cooperating witness in any prosecution)–was, as Barr said, to allow surveillance to be conducted of first the Trump campaign, then the transition team, and finally of members of the Trump administration.


There is zero doubt that the FBI engaged in political espionage in the 2016 election. What is still outstanding is an examination of their motive. Was it, as Horowitz says, out of concern for national security? Or were the upper echelon of the FBI actively working to bring about the defeat of Trump or act as an “insurance policy” should he be elected.



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