MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and the "Morning Joe" crew discuss Attorney General Bill Barr's statement that he believes "spying did occur" on the 2016 Trump campaign.
"It's such a total lie. Everybody on the planet knew the second he said that that it was being thrown out as red meat," he said about Barr's statement.
"Not only was there not any evidence whatsoever of that, improper spying or surveillance or whatever they want to call it, but there's also actually a lot of counter-veiling evidence that everything that was done was proper," Scarborough said. "Everything was done by the book and there were procedural safeguards."
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: When the president throws around terms like "spying," much of the country simply tunes out. When the attorney general does it, it's a whole different story and now the Justice Department is reportedly concerned about partisan allies of the president using William Barr's phrasing to suggest that something illegal occurred. A person familiar with the attorney general's thinking said to the "Washington Post" that Barr was not trying to provide conservatives with rhetorical --
JOE SCARBOROUGH: First of all, that's -- we just have to stop there.
BRZEZINSKI: This guy.
SCARBOROUGH: It's such a total lie. Everybody on the planet knew the second he said that that it was being thrown out as red meat. Even though he backed off.
JOHN HEILEMANN: Given that he didn't back off that much. We read like a Hannity script and if he wasn't doing that, what was he doing given there's no evidence for it whatsoever. If there's no evidence for it and you're at a congressional testimony and you're saying something like this, what other purpose are you serving?
SCARBOROUGH: Not only was there not any evidence whatsoever of that, improper spying or surveillance or whatever they want to call it, but there's also actually a lot of counter-veiling evidence that everything that was done was proper, because again, four, five federal judges approved the warrant. They were all Republicans. You have Republicans all around this process that were saying yeah, this is something we need to look into. Everything was done by the book and there were procedural safeguards, something that Donald Trump hates, something that he considers to be a nuisance, but there were procedural safeguards all along the way.
WILLIE GEIST: The surveillance of Carter Page, who was no longer on the Trump campaign when he underwent surveillance went through a FISA court, so your quarrel is with the FISA court. I think what a lot of conservatives and Republicans don't like, is the way that the FISA surveillance was approved. They don't like the basis for it, the information provided to the court. But that is the FISA court's decision. The FISA court decided whether or not to surveil Carter Page. So you're arguing with FISA, you're not arguing with a political thing.
JOHN HEILEMANN: Not just FISA, but also Rod Rosenstein, who signed off, people who work for Bill Barr right now in the Justice Department who approved the extension of the FISA warrants. It's like people who are Republicans working in the Justice Department who approved it.
MIKE BARNICLE: The FISA court wasn't just created a year ago. The other aspect is if you watch the clip of Bill Barr using the word spying, he's a smart guy. He clearly knew exactly what he was saying.
WILLIE GEIST: But remember his claim through associates into the press anonymously was that he doesn't make a distinction between spying and surveillance and that he did not mean to suggest anything improper was done.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Except for the fact he thought that was wrong to do that in political campaigns. Seriously? Is he that stupid? I don't think he's that stupid. I know there's a lot of lawyers in Washington, D.C. that are shocked about what he's doing right now.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, the person familiar --
JOE SCARBOROUGH: People that have known him for years, Democrats and Republicans alike are shocked how reckless and irresponsible and Roy Cohn-like he's being. He's destroying his legacy here and what happens, Mike, to those people who destroy their legacy? Does Trump say thank you for destroying your legacy for me by making a fool of yourself in front of the American people by showing you have no respect for the rule of law? What happens to those people in the end? They get thrown out.