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Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

All 4 Democratic members of the Gang of 8 — which has received the most classified briefings on the Russia investigation out of anybody in Congress — condemned Attorney General Bill Barr's comments about intelligence officials "spying" on the Trump campaign in 2016.

The backdrop: Barr on Wednesday told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that he believes spying by law enforcement officials on the 2016 Trump campaign "did occur," and that he would be reviewing "both the genesis and conduct" of the Russia investigation. The so-called "spygate" scandal, which relates to alleged FISA abuses by the intelligence community, has been frequently promoted by defenders of President Trump. It has not been corroborated.

  • When pressed toward the end of the hearing, Barr clarified his remarks: "I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I am saying that I am concerned about it and I’m looking into it."

What they're saying:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with the AP that Barr's testimony calls into question his independence, adding that Barr is "not the attorney general of Donald Trump. He is the attorney general of the United States. ... I don't trust Barr. I trust Mueller."
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: "AG Barr admitted he had no evidence to support his claim that spying on the Trump campaign “did occur.” AG Barr must retract his statement immediately or produce specific evidence to back it up. Perpetuating conspiracy theories is beneath the office of the Attorney General."
  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff: "The casual suggestion by the nation’s top law enforcement officer of “spying” may please Donald Trump, who rails against a “deep state coup,” but it strikes another destructive blow to our democratic institutions. The hardworking men and women at the DOJ and FBI deserve better."
  • Senate Intelligence Ranking Member Mark Warner: "Mr. Barr knows how counter-intel investigations work. He knows there was ample evidence of Russian attempts to infiltrate the Trump campaign and that the FBI took lawful action to stop it. Giving a wink and a nod to this long-debunked “spying” conspiracy theory is irresponsible."

The other side: The 4 Republican members of the Gang of 8 — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and House Intelligence Ranking Member Devin Nunes — have not addressed Barr's comments.

The big picture: Barr plans on submitting a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report by next week. He has said that once it becomes public, he is happy to negotiate with the Senate and House Judiciary chairmen to determine what other material can be released. On the question of releasing grand jury materials, however, Barr has said that he is bound by the law and has no intention of asking a judge to unseal anything.

Go deeper: Barr says he will release redacted Mueller report "within a week"

Go deeper

DiDi to delist from NYSE under Chinese govt pressure

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese ride-hail giant DiDi said it will delist from the New York Stock Exchange, following a Chinese government crackdown on foreign listings.

Why it matters: This reflects how geopolitical tensions are bleeding into the capital markets.

Updated 32 mins ago - Health

Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hawaii became on Thursday the fifth state to confirm the newly discovered Omicron variant after New York announced five new cases earlier in the day.

The latest: In Hawaii, the variant was found in an unvaccinated O'ahu resident with moderate symptoms who had previously been infected with COVID-19, per a state health department statement. The variant has also been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.

Senate Dems receive max donations from Nord Stream 2 lobbyist

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A major Democratic donor and Nord Stream 2 lobbyist has made maximum campaign contributions this year to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and vulnerable Senate Democrats, campaign finance records show.

Why it matters: If pressure from the White House to vote against reimposing sanctions on the Russia-backed natural gas pipeline weren't enough, Democrats who back such legislation also will be at loggerheads with one of their party's top fundraisers.