Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday he “didn’t understand” FBI Director Christopher Wray’s “ridiculous” answer that the FBI didn’t spy when looking into then-candidate Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 election.
“I didn’t understand [Wray’s] answer,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. “I thought the attorney general answered it perfectly. So I certainly didn’t understand that answer. I thought it was a ridiculous answer.”
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Trump has claimed the FBI “spied” on his campaign and that subsequent investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including by special counsel Robert Mueller, were part of an “attempted coup” against him. Attorney General Bill Barr has also pushed that narrative, telling lawmakers last month that “spying did occur.”
“Well, it’s not the term I would use. Lots of people have different colloquial phrases,” Wray said during testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee. “I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity, and part of investigative activity includes surveillance.”
Other former FBI officials have backed Wray’s stance. Former FBI Director James Comey told CBS This Morning earlier this month that the bureau “doesn’t spy” and that he “had no idea” why Barr used that language to describe agents’ investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
“I have no idea what [Barr’s] talking about. The FBI doesn’t spy. The FBI investigates,” Comey said.
Barr initially made the spying claims during his own testimony before Congress back in April. “Spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr said. “I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting that it wasn’t adequately predicated. But I need to explore that.”