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

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Senate Judiciary Democrats demand DOJ turn over Trump obstruction memo Garland strikes down Trump-era asylum decisions 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 CoonsChris Andrew CoonsThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Tensions grow between liberals and centrists on infrastructure On The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections 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 TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC 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 ClintonVirginia governor's race poses crucial test for GOP Hillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race Hillary Clinton: Casting doubt on 2020 election is 'doing Putin's work' MORE.

Barr faced hours of grilling Wednesday from senators about his handling of 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 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.