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

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien Comey3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Barr predicts progressive prosecutors will lead to 'more crime, more victims' James Comey shows our criminal justice system works as intended MORE on Wednesday took aim at Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries Mueller report fades from political conversation Barr removes prisons chief after Epstein death MORE over comments about "spying" that Barr believes targeted President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 ClapperEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Former DHS, intelligence leaders launch group to protect presidential campaigns from foreign interference Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief 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.