Trump says Barr's claim gov't spied on his campaign 'absolutely true'

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he 'absolutely' agrees with Attorney General William Barr's statement that he thought the U.S. government spied on Trump's 2016 presidential campaign — a remark that echoes Trump's past allegations.

"I think what he said was absolutely true, there was absolutely spying into my campaign," Trump said when asked if he was pleased with Barr's statement at a congressional hearing the day before. "I'll go a step further; in my opinion, it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying and something that should never be allowed to happen in our country again."

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William Barr through the years
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William Barr through the years
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 1991 file photo, then Attorney General nominee William Barr is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington. Barr once advised the U.S. government that it could attack Iraq without Congressional approval, arrest a deposed foreign dictator and capture suspects abroad without that country’s permission. Those decisions reflect a broad view of presidential power that Barr, President Donald Trump's pick to reclaim his old attorney general job, demonstrated at the Justice Department and in the years since. (AP Photo/John Duricka)
U.S. President George H. Bush signs into law new civil rights guarantees for women and minorities at a Rose Garden ceremony, Thursday, Nov. 21, 1991 in Washington, as Vice President Dan Quayle, left, and Acting Attorney General William Barr look on. The bill signing capped a two-year struggle with congress over whether the legislation encouraged job quotas. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
U.S. President George H. Bush, right, and William Barr wave after Barr was sworn in as the new Attorney General of the United States, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 1991 at a Justice Department ceremony in Washington. (AP Photo/Scott Applewhite)
U.S. President George H. Bush gestures while talking to Attorney General William Barr in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, May 4, 1992 in Washington. The President met with top domestic Cabinet officers to tackle long-range problems pushed to the forefront by last week's deadly riots in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
Board member of MCI Telecommunications, Nicholas Katzenbach, second left, speaks at hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on "The WorldCom Case: Looking at Bankruptcy and Competition Issues" on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, July 22, 2003. Witnesses are, from left, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Verizon Communications William Barr, Katzenbach, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP's Marcia Goldstein, Communications Workers of America President Morton Bahr, National Bankruptcy Conference Vice-Chair Douglas Baird, Cerberus Capital Management Chief Operation Officer Mark Neporent. (AP Photo/Akira Ono)
Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, left, listens as William Redpath, Libertarian Party national chairman, answers a question at a news conference in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007. (AP Photo)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, left, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee member and Trump confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, arrives to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee member and Trump confidant Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee, William Barr, right, meets with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. Barr, who served in the position in the early 1990s, has a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week and could be in place at the Justice Department as soon as February when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein leaves after Barr is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Attorney General nominee William Barr , left, turns to answer a reporter's question as he arrives to meet with Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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Barr defended his decision to order a review of the Trump-Russia probe's origins during a Senate hearing Wednesday, saying that he thinks government "spying" on Trump's 2016 campaign "did occur," although he didn't elaborate.

"For the same reason, we're worried about foreign influence in elections ... I think spying on a political campaign — it's a big deal, it's a big deal," Barr said in response to a question from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that handles Justice Department funding, who had asked why Barr is looking into the origins of the investigation.

When he was asked to clarify later in the hearing, Barr said, "I'm not saying if improper surveillance occurred, stating only that he was "concerned about it" and looking into the situation.

Trump alleged in March 2017, without providing evidence, that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower before his election win the previous November. In response, Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis roundly rejected Trump's accusation, calling it "unequivocally false."

Barr, in a letter to Congress last month, said special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence anyone associated with Trump's campaign "conspired or coordinated" with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller, however, reached no conclusion on whether the president had obstructed justice, Barr said, leading Trump to claim he had been exonerated.

During the Oval Office sit-down with South Korean President Moon Jae-In on Thursday, Trump said he was "not concerned" about Barr's promise not to redact anything that would damage the president's reputation when he releases Mueller's report to Congress.

"We never did anything wrong," Trump said.

Trump on Wednesday blasted the Russia probe as "an attempted coup" against his presidency — his sharpest comments to date since the probe ended. Trump said the probe was "started illegally" and that "every single thing about it" was "crooked."

"There were dirty cops, these were bad people," he said, listing former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok and ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

"And this was an attempted coup. This was an attempted takedown of a president. And we beat them, we beat them," Trump said.

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