William Barr is right to investigate FBI actions during 2016 campaign

This week, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrDemocrats' silence on our summer of violence is a tactical blunder Trump prizes loyalty over competence — we are seeing the results Rep. Raúl Grijalva tests positive for COVID-19 MORE testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In an exchange with Senator Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE, Barr answered, “I think spying did occur, yes. I think spying did occur.”

He received immediate pushback for his comments. “Let me just say how very, very dismaying and disappointing that the chief law enforcement officer is going off the rails,” House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video Trump says he's considering executive action to suspend evictions, payroll tax Trump won't say if he disagrees with Birx that virus is widespread MORE said in response to his comments. She went on to say, “He is the attorney general of the United States of America, not the attorney general of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE.”

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThis week: Negotiators hunt for coronavirus deal as August break looms FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Sally Yates to testify as part of GOP probe into Russia investigation MORE, who oversaw the bureau during the 2016 campaign, declared, “When I hear that kind of language used, it is concerning because the FBI and the Department of Justice conduct court ordered electronic surveillance. I have never thought of that as spying.”


The general consensus among Democrats now is that Barr has overstepped his role as attorney general and is attempting to protect the president. However, I think given the events that occurred during and after the 2016 campaign, it is only right that the Justice Department investigate the actions taken by our intelligence community and the FBI. I would not go as far as Barr and say that spying occurred. Rather, I would say that based on the information we know, unauthorized surveillance occurred. This has become clear through facts that are now available.

FBI actions throughout the 2016 campaign raised questions from analysts on both sides of the political aisle. Its reluctance to divulge concerns with the Trump campaign, its unwillingness to share information gathered with Congress, and its outright failure to disclose to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the dossier it was using to request a warrant was funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were certainly out of protocol for standard FBI operating procedures.

The Justice Department should look into the FBI, Comey in his role as director, and the rest of the intelligence community to ensure that unauthorized surveillance never happens again. To be clear, I am not accusing Comey of malpractice, but considering FBI actions taken over the past three years, there are residual questions that need answering.

The attorney general has a right to find out whether the investigation into the 2016 campaign was appropriate, what factors led to it, and whether or not intelligence officials were correct in launching their investigation. This investigation into the intelligence community and the FBI is not payback, as some Democrats have suggested. This is good government at work.

Ultimately, we need to ensure there is a nonpartisan and unideological examination of the intelligence community and the FBI. Both Congress and the American public need to know the details of what happened so that history does not repeat itself. Similarly, I believe the public must see the full report of the special counsel investigation by 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. This view is not extreme, and is shared by lawmakers across the spectrum, so why is requesting that Barr investigate the FBI considered off the rails?

This investigation should continue without partisan bloviating. Lawmakers across the political spectrum should want transparency in government, and they should eschew partisanship to ensure this happens. Considering the allegations and events that have occurred over the past three years, it is time that we work to restore trust and confidence in our government.

This will be done by Barr releasing the full special counsel report and conducting a thorough and nonpartisan review of the unauthorized surveillance during the 2016 campaign. Only then can the American public rest assured with renewed faith in how its government works.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. He is a political consultant, Fox News contributor, and the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”