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

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGOP lawmaker calls for Justice Dept. to probe international court Barr pulls over to thank pro-police rally in Virginia Trump: Yates either lying or grossly incompetent 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 CoonsWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure 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 TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran 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 ClintonHillary Clinton labels Trump coronavirus executive actions a 'stunt' What Trump got wrong by pushing coal Trump is fighting the wrong war MORE.

Barr faced hours of grilling Wednesday from senators about his handling of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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.