William Barr is right to investigate FBI actions during 2016 campaign

This week, Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrReport: Barr attorney can't provide evidence Trump was set up by DOJ Budowsky: Chief Justice Roberts can rescue democracy 14 states ask Supreme Court to let Trump resume federal executions MORE testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In an exchange with Senator Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBiden reveals four women he could pick as his running mate Senate Democrats ask Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters Progressive group to spend as much as M to turn out young voters 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 PelosiTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans On The Money: Falling impeachment support raises pressure for Dems on trade | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Biden eyes minimum tax for corporations | Fed's top regulator under pressure over Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Virginia moves to suspend Medicaid work rules | Powerful House panel sets 'Medicare for All' hearing | Hospitals sue over Trump price rule | FDA official grilled on vaping policy 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 TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE.”

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Rosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe 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) 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. 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.”