Republican senators request briefing on DOJ 'spying' probe

Two top Republican senators want the Department of Justice (DOJ) to brief them on its efforts to investigate alleged "spying" during the 2016 election after Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBarr praises Seattle police chief as officers clear protest zone Judge strikes down Trump administration rule denying asylum to most migrants at southern border Supreme Court declines challenge to DOJ execution method MORE told lawmakers that he was looking into the issue.
 
 
"We share your concerns about these activities, and are troubled by the apparent unauthorized disclosures of surveillance efforts and other classified information during the same time period," the two senators wrote in their letter.
 
The letter comes after Barr sparked a political firestorm when he told lawmakers during a hearing earlier this month that he believed "spying did occur" against President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE's campaign during the 2016 election. 
 
"I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated,” Barr said. 
 
Pressed later on his comments, he added that he was "not saying improper surveillance occurred. I am saying I am concerned about it, and I am looking into it."
 
In addition to a briefing, Grassley and Johnson are asking Barr to detail the "nature and extent" of his review, how he plans to get information from individuals who have left the FBI, what steps he has taken to investigate if the FBI had "unauthorized contacts" with reporters and if he would share his findings with Congress once finished. 
 
Grassley and Johnson also want to know how many counter-intelligence briefings were provided to Trump administration officials during the transition period leading up to the inauguration. 
 
Republicans, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights Harrison goes on the attack against Graham in new South Carolina Senate ad Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (S.C.), are eager to turn the page from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's probe into Russian election meddling. They are digging in for their own investigations into other Obama-era scandals, including the handling of the probe into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Nicole Malliotakis wins New York primary to challenge Max Rose Trump's evangelical approval dips, but remains high How Obama can win back millions of Trump voters for Biden MORE's private email server and a controversial research dossier compiled against then-candidate Trump.
 
Grassley and Johnson also used their letter to try to highlight information for Barr, which they write "may assist" his review of the 2016 election, including flagging text messages between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page, where they appear to discuss logistics for a briefing and trying to develop "potential relationships."
 
"Were these efforts done to gain better communication between the respective parties, or were the briefings used as intelligence gathering operations?" Grassley and Johnson ask in their letter. "Any improper FBI surveillance activities that were conducted before or after the 2016 election must be brought to light and properly addressed."