Senate Dems call for Barr to walk back 'spying' allegation

Top Senate Democrats are demanding Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrJudge rejects DOJ effort to delay House lawsuit against Barr, Ross Holder rips into William Barr: 'He is unfit to lead the Justice Department' Five takeaways on Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill MORE walk back his accusation that the Trump campaign was spied on by the FBI.

Barr sparked a political firestorm earlier Wednesday when he told senators that he believed "spying did occur" during the 2016 election and that he would be reviewing the probe of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE's campaign.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTurf war derails bipartisan push on surprise medical bills Senate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA CEO group pushes Trump, Congress on paid family, medical leave MORE (D-N.Y.) accused Barr of "perpetuating conspiracy theories" during his testimony before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee. The hearing was scheduled to discuss the department's budget but ultimately was dominated by questions about special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE's probe.

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"AG Barr must retract his statement immediately or produce specific evidence to back it up," Schumer said in a tweet.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added in a statement that Barr had "demanded himself" by "carelessly acting as a mouthpiece for President Trump's conspiracy theories."

“Attorney General Barr must retract his unfounded, irresponsible claim that American law enforcement ‘spied’ on the Trump Campaign. The only spies interfering in the 2016 campaign were Russian ones," Blumenthal said.

He added that Barr's comments have a "real, measurable impact on the lives and safety of our men and women in law enforcement. He owes them a retraction and an apology.”

Barr told senators on Wednesday that he was looking into the FBI's investigation of members of Trump's campaign and that he believes "spying" took place.

"The question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that," he said.

Though Barr acknowledged that he did not have "specific evidence" that the FBI behaved improperly that he had "questions."

He later attempted to clarify his initial remarks, saying he is concerned that "improper surveillance" may have taken place during the 2016 election.

"I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred," he said. "I'm saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That's all."