William Barr is right to investigate FBI actions during 2016 campaign

This week, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMeadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report Why it's time for conservatives to accept the 2020 election results and move on Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ MORE testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In an exchange with Senator Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenProgressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' 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 PelosiJudge to hear Trump's case against Jan. 6 committee in November Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech GOP lawmaker calls for Meghan, Harry to lose royal titles over paid leave push 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 TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE.”

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump defends indicted GOP congressman Andrew McCabe's settlement with the Department of Justice is a signal to John Durham Giuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign 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) 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. 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.”