Comey: 'The FBI doesn't spy, the FBI investigates'

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThere are poor ideas, bad ones and Facebook's Libra Trump has considered firing official who reported whistleblower complaint to Congress: report Broadcast, cable news networks to preempt regular programming for Trump impeachment coverage MORE on Wednesday took aim at Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr: Inspector general's report on alleged FISA abuses 'imminent' DOJ unveils program aimed at reducing gun violence Trump goes on tweeting offensive ahead of public impeachment hearing MORE over comments about "spying" that Barr believes targeted President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE's campaign in 2016.

In an appearance on "CBS This Morning," the former FBI chief admonished Barr for his use of the word “spy” and said that is not what the FBI does.

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"Yeah, I have no idea what he's talking about. The FBI doesn't spy, the FBI investigates," Comey said of Barr's use of “spying” to describe potential surveillance measures targeting members of the Trump campaign in 2016.

"We investigated a very serious allegation, that Americans might be hooked up with the Russian effort to attack our democracy."

He also lashed out at Republicans for playing politics with the matter.

"The Republicans need to breathe into a paper bag," Comey continued. "If we had confronted the same facts with a different candidate, say, a Democratic candidate, where one of their advisers was talking to a foreign adversary's representative, about that adversary interfering in our election, they'd be screaming for the FBI to investigate it."

 

Comey's comments come after Barr gave testimony to a Senate committee last month in which he said that he believed that the U.S. government engaged in "spying" on the Trump campaign in 2016 before clarifying that he took no position on whether it was justified or legal.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. “But the question is whether it was adequately predicated, and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

The comments were swiftly rebuked by former members of the intelligence community, including former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperThe curious timeline for taking down Trump Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward Schiff: Barr 'weaponizing' DOJ 'to go after the president's enemies' MORE, who called them "stunning" and "scary."

"I was amazed at that and rather disappointed that the attorney general would say such a thing," Clapper told CNN last month.