Barr Defends Use Of The Word "Spying" -- "I'm Not Suggesting Any Pejorative"


During his Judiciary Committee testimony Wednesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked Attorney General about his statement during testimony April 10 that "spying did occur" on the Trump campaign in 2016.

"I don't consider it a pejorative," Barr said.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: I just want to nail down, you used the word "spying" about authorized DOJ investigative activities.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BILL BARR: You're--are you talking about my testimony before House appropriations?


BARR: Okay.

WHITEHOUSE: In the entirety of your previous career in the Department of Justice, including as attorney general, have you ever referred to authorized department investigative activities officially or publicly as spying? I'm not asking for private conversation your comments.

BARR: I'm not going to abjure the use of the word "spying." I think, you know, my first job was in CIA and I don't think the word spying has any pejorative convert connotation at all. To me the question is always whether or not it's authorized and adequately predicated, spying. I think spying is a good English word that in fact doesn't have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating really all forms of covert intelligence collections. So I'm not going to back off the word spying to--except I will say... I'm not suggesting any pejorative and I use it frequently, as do media.

WHITEHOUSE: When did you decide to use it? Was it off-the-cuff in the hearing that day or did you go into that hearing intending to use a word spying?

BARR: It was actually off-the-cuff, to tell you the truth. And when [Sen. Jeanne Shaheen] ... challenged me and said do you want to change your language I was actually thinking, like, what's the issue? I don't consider it a pejorative. But frankly... we went back and looked at present usage and up until all the--the full outrage a couple of weeks ago, it's commonly used in the press to refer to authorized activity, such as refer to the FISA court--

WHITEHOUSE: --But it is not commonly used by the department.

BARR: What?

WHITEHOUSE: It is not commonly used by the department. My time is up.

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