A number of text messages plus a campaign email were sent to supporters of President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection bid, and the messages included false characterizations of Attorney General William Barr’s recent congressional testimony, The Hill reports. The messages were sent on Friday and referred to statements that Barr made as part of his appearance at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.
Barr, in his testimony, acknowledged that under the administration of then-President Barack Obama, spying took place that was directed at Trump’s campaign. Barr was careful in his characterization of the surveillance. He openly acknowledged what he described as spying on the campaign, but went out of his way to explain that he was not suggesting that the surveillance was improper or illegal.
The attorney general did go on to say that he and his team would be looking into the matter to explore wether something unseemly did take place.
“I think spying did occur,” he said during the hearing.
“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 not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That’s all.”
Shortly after Barr’s testimony, Trump’s reelection campaign seized on the statements and repositioned them in such a way as to suggest that Barr had, in fact, validated the president’s previous statements accusing the Obama Administration of illegal spying.
“Attorney General William Barr said what the president has thought all along: He believes ‘unlawful spying did occur’ against Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign,” one of the messages reads.
When comparing Barr’s statement with the language included in the fundraising messages, it is clear that Barr’s words are misquoted, with the campaign adding the word “unlawful,” even as the attorney general’s statements in context make absolutely clear that such a determination had not been made by him or the Justice Department.
The Trump campaign has just texted supporters looking to fundraise off of AG Barr’s congressional testimony, and falsely claims that Barr said he “believes the Obama Admin illegally spied on Pres. Trump.” pic.twitter.com/hxGvRyWmwY
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) April 12, 2019
Another line in the Trump Campaign messages indicates that Barr believes illegal spying was done by the Obama Administration, again putting words in the mouth of the attorney general which, in fact, can be verified with relative ease through transcripts of the testimony.
The fundraising messages go on to request $28 from supporters in exchange for a free “I Spy Trump” gift.
Many in the intelligence community expressed shock that Barr would have made such statements before it became clear that he indeed had not.
“I thought it was both stunning and scary,” said former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“I was amazed at that and rather disappointed that the attorney general would say such a thing.”