Any time President Trump showed the slightest discomfort at having his life probed by a special counsel with unlimited power, Democrats and the media suspiciously wondered: Well, what’s he got to hide?!
Now, Attorney General William Barr says he wants to take a peek at the Obama administration’s spying on Trump’s 2016 campaign. And those same Democrats are calling it a political hit job.
Well, what have they got to hide?!
During his hearing last week in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr said he would be “reviewing both the genesis and the conduct” of those involved in spying on Trump's campaign, which includes the FBI.
“A lot of this has already been investigated and a substantial portion of it has been investigated and is being investigated by the office of inspector general at the [Justice] Department,” he said. “But one of the things I want to do is pull together all the information from the various investigations that have gone on, including on the Hill and in the department and see if there are any remaining questions to be addressed.”
Barr also offered that he had a “basis” to believe that spying on the campaign did occur, but said that he only wanted to be sure that it was properly “predicated” and that there were no abuses of power. Who could reasonably oppose that?
Democrats do, but rather than outright say it — perhaps because it’s public knowledge that the Trump campaign was secretly surveilled by the government — they pretend that Barr’s use of the word “spying” is somehow inappropriate. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, during the hearing, asked Barr if he wanted to “rephrase,” because “the word spying could cause everybody in the cable news ecosystem to freak out.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., demanded that Barr “retract his unfounded, irresponsible claim.”
House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also called on Barr to “retract his statement immediately or produce specific evidence to back it up.”
The specific evidence is that Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser, was literally wiretapped by the FBI. The specific evidence is that ex-professor Stefan Halper was meeting with Trump aides and, unbeknownst to the campaign, relaying their conversations to the FBI. In every sense of the word, Halper was operating as a spy. Media insistence that he be referred to instead as an “informant” is a semantics game.
A Washington Post article on Monday said Trump and his supporters “have struggled to legitimize their accusations that the FBI conducted political spying” on the campaign, even as it went on to say that Page was “secretly surveilled” by the FBI.
It's not clear what distinction Democrats are making when they urge that there's a difference between "spying" and "surveillance." If they're going to order everyone to use a different word than "spying," maybe they shouldn't have picked an exact synonym for it.
Barr’s investigation may find that no laws were broken. Spying can be legal. But as he said during his hearing, there are unresolved questions, like why wasn’t the Trump campaign informed if authorities suspected Page or anyone else might have posed some unknown threat?
Barr acknowledged during his testimony that it’s possible that a prosecution could take place if any criminality were uncovered but that it may simply be a matter of placing safeguards within the Justice Department to ensure that if anything inappropriate happened, it wouldn’t happen again.
He said that there could be examples of abuse “that may not rise to the level of a crime but that people might think is bad and want to put in rules or prophylaxis against it.”
This is what Democrats are raging against, even after their hysterical investigation of collusion between Trump and Russia turned up nothing.
What are they trying to hide?