Barr was responding to a question from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who asked the attorney general about his position on the proposed Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.
What did he say at the hearing?
Senator Lindsey Graham, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, has already pledged to pursue the issue.
Shaheen asked in a follow-up whether Barr believed the Federal Bureau of Investigation spied on the Trump team.
Former Trump 2016 campaign advisor Michael Caputo tells FOX Business' Trish Regan that he learned that a FBI informant investigating Russian Federation had questioned him after speaking with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. Though Barr said Justice Department officials were still reviewing the bill, he told the committee that allowing states to set pot policy would be an improvement over the status quo.
Shaheen asked Barr why he thought this was necessary. The full report - barring sections blacked out for legal or security reasons - is expected to be released within days, promising to fuel intense political battles ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Barr added, "I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal". It's a big deal.
"Yes. I think spying did occur", Barr said. "And I am not talking about the Federal Bureau of Investigation necessarily, but intelligence agencies more broadly". They were spying on - a term I don't particularly like - but on what the Russians were doing.
Asked again about spying at the end of the hearing, Barr tempered his tone "I am not saying improper surveillance occurred". "But the question is whether it was predicated, adequately predicated - and I'm not suggesting it wasn't adequately predicated". "I need to know more. I think it's my obligation". "I think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders there at the upper echelons".
Meanwhile, Dershowitz said he expects the report will be critical when it comes to whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction.
Barr, appearing before a Senate panel, did not say what "spying" had taken place.
Later in the hearing, Sen.
Asked if Schiff would seek another briefing from the Justice Department on Barr's latest claim, Schiff said: "We'll certainly try to get to the bottom of numerous things he has been saying over the last two days - his references to investigation into the president's political opponents".
"This struck me like lightning that one person decide - I assume the president wants you to - made this decision and everything that was done by way of proper legislative action has been taken and signature of a president, I just don't ever recall anything like this happening in the past quarter of a century", Sen.
"There is a basis for my concern, but I'm not going to discuss my basis".
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