FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday that he isn't aware of any illegal "spying" on the Trump campaign in 2016.
Wray's testimony comes after Attorney General William Barr told Congress last month that he believes "spying did occur" against the Trump campaign. Barr's comments sparked intense criticism, but given the chance to rephrase his comments, Barr did not.
Wray made the comments in a committee hearing on the FBI's proposed 2020 budget. He made the remark in response to questions from Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who asked Wray whether he believes the term "spying" describes what the FBI does when it investigates alleged mobsters or terrorists.
"That's not the term I would use," Wray responded.
Pressed to clarify that response, he added, "I mean, look, there are a lot of people that have different colloquial phrases. I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity and part of that activity is surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes, and to me the key question is making sure that it's done by the book, consistent with our lawful authorities. That's the key question, different people use different colloquial phrases."
Shaheen then turned her attention to Barr's comments. Wray was cautious to discuss details about any surveillance on the Trump campaign, pointing out that the Justice Department inspector general is looking into the matter. But Wray did testify that he had seen no evidence that the FBI conducted any illegal surveillance in 2016.
"I don't think I personally have any evidence of that sort," he said.
Mr. Trump, who has long claimed his campaign was spied on, has highlighted Barr's remarks.
"It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even Spying or Treason," the president tweeted on April 19. "This should never happen again!"
Barr is under fire for his testimony before Congress, particularly after it was revealed that Special Counsel Robert Muellerabout the attorney general's summary of his report. Barr also failed to show up to a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, after testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.