US Attorney-General’s ‘spying’ remarks anger Democrats
WASHINGTON: Attorney-General William Barr said on Wednesday that he would look into whether US agencies illegally spied on President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
Mr Barr, who was appointed by Mr Trump, is already facing criticism by congressional Democrats for how he has handled the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and his comments about surveillance brought more derision from Democratic senators.
His testimony echoed longstanding allegations by Mr Trump and Republican allies that seek to cast doubt on the early days of the federal investigation in an apparent attempt to discredit Mr Mueller, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Trump dialled up his rhetoric on the launch of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, describing it as "an attempted coup" and treason.
Mr Barr told senators at a hearing on Wednesday that he felt the need to further probe how US intelligence agencies conducted themselves in the Russia investigation because "spying on a political campaign is a big deal".
Mr Barr acknowledged under sharp questioning by lawmakers that there was no evidence of wrongdoing and later declined to elaborate on why he has concerns.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a tweet that Barr should retract his comments.
"Perpetuating conspiracy theories is beneath the office of the Attorney-General," Mr Schumer wrote. - REUTERS