Scarborough: It's a 'lie' to say Barr wasn't throwing 'rhetorical red meat' to base with spying comment

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on Friday said it was a “lie” to say that Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAnticipation builds for final Supreme Court rulings Anticipation builds for final Supreme Court rulings Trump's Justice Department should change its tune on antitrust policy MORE “was not trying to provide conservatives with rhetorical red meat” when he mentioned the word “spy” while appearing before a Senate committee on Wednesday.

The attorney general said that he is looking into efforts by the FBI to investigate members of the Trump campaign before the 2016 presidential election, saying he believes "spying” took place and he needs to be sure it was justified. The statement has drawn scorn from Democrats and cheers from Republicans.

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Scarborough was commenting on a Washington Post report on Thursday that cited an unnamed source “familiar with the attorney general's thinking” that Barr was not trying to “provide conservatives with rhetorical red meat.”

Turning to "The Circus" co-host John Heilemann, Scarborough pushed back on the assertion.

"Heilemann, that’s just such a total lie," the host said. "Everybody on the planet knew the second [Barr] said that [about spying], it was being thrown out as red meat, even though he backed off."

"He didn’t back off that much. He read it like a Sean Hannity script," Heilemann said in reference to the Fox News host. "And if he wasn’t doing that, what was he doing, given there’s no evidence for it whatsoever?"

"No evidence," Scarborough echoed.

The former GOP congressman's perspective comes as Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon Trump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon GOP group urges Republicans to speak out on obstruction claims against Trump in new ad MORE defended Barr in a Wall Street Journal interview published Wednesday.

“He’s being as forthcoming as he can, and so this notion that he’s trying to mislead people, I think, is just completely bizarre,” Rosenstein said.