90 Miles From Tyranny : Barr Should Focus on 2 Questions When Investigating Spying on Trump Campaign

Friday, April 12, 2019

Barr Should Focus on 2 Questions When Investigating Spying on Trump Campaign

Democrats sharply attacked Attorney General William Barr for telling the truth when he acknowledged in Senate testimony Wednesday that federal law enforcement officers had spied on the Trump presidential campaign.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York were the highest ranking congressional Democrats saying they were outraged. Why? Because Barr simply acknowledged reality.

Schumer tweeted that Barr was “peddling conspiracy theories.” Pelosi said “I don’t trust Barr.” And Hoyer told Fox News that Barr is “acting as an employee of the president … to protect the president.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr told a Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated.”

Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican—whether you support President Donald Trump or can’t stand him—you need to accept the reality that what Barr said is true. As Barr pointed out, the spying took place by both federal informants and secret electronic surveillance authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court.

The question of whether the spying was proper or improper is now what’s up for debate—not whether the spying occurred. And the only way to determine if the spying was proper is to examine how and why the investigation of the Trump campaign began—something Barr told senators he is doing.

Simply ignoring the issue of whether the spying against the Trump campaign was justified would be irresponsible and a dereliction of duty by the attorney general.

Barr has a responsibility to look into the spying, focusing on finding answers to two questions:

First, did the FBI and the Justice Department have evidence to justify opening an investigation and counterintelligence operation looking at the Trump presidential campaign?

And second, did those who authorized the spying meet the requirements of the FISA law to justify electronic surveillance?

“Spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr told senators. It sure is. Everyone, regardless of their politics, should be “concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane,” Barr said.

Dictatorships spy on political opponents, throwing them in jail or sometimes even executing them. In democracies, governments are not supposed to use their law enforcement powers and massive resources against political opponents. It is vital that we adhere to this distinction and not let Uncle Sam turn into Big Brother.

We have never before had a situation in which law enforcement officials of executive branch agencies spied on a presidential campaign. It’s something that never should happen without substantial evidence of possible wrongdoing.

You’ll recall that the purpose of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was to ascertain whether members of the Trump campaign...

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