Barr hesitates when asked if campaigns need to report foreign governments offering 'dirt' on competitors

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe truth about presidential power GOP rep predicts watchdog report on alleged FISA abuses will find 'problems' Barr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings MORE did not immediately answer Wednesday when asked a pointed question on whether campaigns should report directly to the FBI when foreign governments offer “dirt” on competitors.

During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barr was asked by Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsHillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Democrats raise privacy concerns over Amazon home security system Senators press Facebook over user location tracking policies MORE (D-Del.) if he believes a campaign contacted by a foreign adversary, using North Korea as a hypothetical example, should contact the FBI.

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Barr paused for more than five seconds before Coons clarified his question, to which Barr agreed and said “yes.”

“If a foreign intelligence service does, yes,” Barr said.

Members of President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE's 2016 campaign have faced ongoing criticism for meeting with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin whom they'd been told could offer dirt on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic strategist laments 'low bar' for Biden debate performance Wasserman Schultz makes bid for House Appropriations Committee gavel Trump to hold campaign rally in Pennsylvania next month MORE.

Barr faced hours of grilling Wednesday from senators about his handling of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE’s investigation into Moscow's interference in the 2016 election.

Barr has faced multiple complaints from Democrats over his handling of the probe, particularly after a letter from Mueller surfaced expressing his “frustration” over Barr’s summary of the report’s findings.