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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 BarrLieu calls Catholic bishops 'hypocrites' for move to deny Biden communion The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Senate Judiciary Democrats demand DOJ turn over Trump obstruction memo 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 TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat 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 GrahamBiden to host Afghan president at White House on Friday Portman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight MORE (S.C.), are eager to turn the page from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 ClintonThe Memo: The center strikes back Democratic clamor grows for select committee on Jan. 6 attack White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine 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."