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

Top Senate Democrats are demanding Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrPelosi says she will view less-redacted version of Mueller report Pelosi says she will view less-redacted version of Mueller report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept 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 TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE's campaign.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate confirms Trump judicial nominee criticized for being hostile to LGBT community Senate confirms Trump judicial nominee criticized for being hostile to LGBT community Democrats detail new strategy to pressure McConnell on election security bills 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 MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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."