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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse 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 TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate 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 GrahamGraham: Report on alleged surveillance abuse in 2016 to be released Dec. 9 McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack MORE (S.C.), are eager to turn the page from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' 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 ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate 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."