Barr: Answers have been 'inadequate' on origins of Russian probe

Barr: Answers have been 'inadequate' on origins of Russian probe
© Greg Nash

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFive things to watch in Russia probe review Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE said Friday that he has received "inadequate" answers to questions from senior Justice Department officials concerning the origin of the investigation into the Trump campaign.

Speaking with Fox News, the attorney general said some explanations he had received from those involved in the early stages of the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia's election interference did not "hang together" under scrutiny.

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"I’ve been trying to get answers to the questions and I've found that a lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I've gotten don't hang together, in a sense I have more questions today than when I first started," Barr said from El Salvador, where he will address efforts to fight MS-13 and the surge of immigration at the U.S.–Mexico border.

"Some of the explanations of what occurred," he added, are what do not "hang together."

"People have to find out what the government was doing during that period. If we're worried about foreign influence, for the very same reason we should be worried about whether government officials abuse their power and put their thumb on the scale," Barr told Fox News, adding: "I'm not saying that happened but it's something we have to look at."

Barr's comments came days after reports surfaced that the attorney general had tapped John DurhamJohn DurhamHorowitz investigation expected to find Russia probe valid, but flawed: report Five things to watch in Russia probe review Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe MORE, a longtime Justice Department official who is serving as a U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to review the origins of the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference.

Reports of the move were praised by Republicans, but raised eyebrows among Democrats who have been critical of Barr’s decision to review the origins of the investigation after the attorney general told a Senate committee last month that he believed "spying" had occurred, targeting the Trump campaign in 2016.

Barr added at the time that he took no position on the legality of the Justice Department's actions under the Obama administration.

"I think spying did occur,” Barr said in April. “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.”

“I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016,” he added lawmakers at the time. “A lot of this has already been investigated and a substantial portion that’s being investigated is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the department.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE and his allies have used Barr's words to hammer Democrats on the origins of the Russia investigation as Congress attempts to investigate matters related to special counsel 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's probe.

The House in recent days has battled with the White House over whether Mueller will testify before Congress as well as over the release of an unredacted version of Mueller's more than 400-page report.

On Friday, Trump doubled down on claims that his campaign had been spied upon, likening the alleged actions to "treason" and calling for jail sentences for those he claims were responsible.

"My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics," he wrote. "A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!"