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"Spying on a political campaign is a big deal", Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"For the same reason we're anxious about foreign influence in elections...spying on a political campaign is a big deal", Barr told Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

What did the attorney general say?

"I'm not suggesting that those rules were violated, but I think it's important to look at that".

"I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred".

Barr, who was nominated to his post by Trump four months ago, told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that though he did not have specific evidence of wrongdoing, "I do have questions about it".

Attorney General William Barr says a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation report is coming "hopefully next week".

"Although the President would have the right to assert privilege over certain parts of the report", Barr wrote in that letter, "he has stated publicly that he intends to defer to me and, accordingly, there are no plans to submit the report to the White House for a privilege review".

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation employees deserve better from their leader.

"You can hire an attorney general who has applied for the job by telling you why he thinks the case against you is bogus", Schiff continued.

"We're going to have to make some hard choices", Barr said.

Barr, who was appointed by Trump, is already facing criticism by congressional Democrats for how he has handled the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report into the Russian Federation probe and his comments about surveillance brought more derision from Democratic senators. Although the Department of Justice shot that down in 2017, agreeing that there was no evidence to support this, Barr, the new leader of the DOJ, seems to believe "unauthorized surveillance" may have occurred.

During Wednesday's hearing, Barr responded to a question about news reports that he had a special team looking at why the FBI opened a special investigation of Trump during the 2016 campaign. "But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I am not suggesting that it wasn't adequately predicated. This was an attempted takedown of a president and we beat them", he said Wednesday.

Justice Department officials are scouring the report to remove grand jury information and details relating to pending investigations, among other materials.

Associates of Trump's campaign, such as Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, were targeted by a series of unusual meetings involving intelligence assets. The FBI relied on the notorious Steele dossier, funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).