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 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 told lawmakers that he was looking into the issue.
 
Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDemocrats make U-turn on calling border a 'manufactured crisis' Democrats make U-turn on calling border a 'manufactured crisis' GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (R-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds Grassley announces opposition to key Trump proposal to lower drug prices MORE (R-Iowa) — the chairman of the Homeland Security and Finance committees, respectively — sent Barr a letter on Thursday pressing him for details on his review.
 
"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 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 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 GrahamSecond ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Meghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' MORE (S.C.), are eager to turn the page from 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 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 ClintonDemocrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony Trump: 'So sad' Democrats are putting Hope Hicks 'through hell' 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."