'TREASON!': Trump says his campaign was spied on. Current and former FBI officials disagree.

President Trump on Friday claimed his campaign was “conclusively spied on” and suggested those responsible should be prosecuted for treason and sent to prison as Attorney General William Barr continued to defend his probe of the origins of the Russia investigation.

“My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on,” Trump tweeted. “Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!”

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Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Mueller report
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Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Mueller report
Attorney General William Barr is photographed as he sits down to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Attorney General William Barr, right, is sworn in by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, as he faces lawmakers' questions for the first time since releasing special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia report, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Attorney General William Barr is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General William Barr is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Russia report by special counsel Robert Mueller on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Attorney General William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2019, on the Mueller Report. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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Trump has long claimed the FBI spied on his campaign and that the federal investigation into his campaign’s contacts with Russia was part of an “attempted coup” against him.

But there is no evidence of any coup, critics say. And there is debate over whether the term “spying” should be used to describe court-approved surveillance or a lawful counterintelligence investigation.

The FBI began its investigation in July 2016, after Australia informed the United States that foreign Trump campaign policy adviser George Papadopoulos claimed that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The FBI used an undercover investigator and a longtime informant in Britain to make contact with Papadopoulos.

In September 2016, Yahoo News first reported that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was under federal investigation over a trip he had taken to Moscow two months earlier. The story, by Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, was later cited in an FBI application for a surveillance warrant against Page. Isikoff’s reporting on Christopher Steele, the former British spy who prepared the controversial dossier about Trump, was also cited in the FBI’s application to wiretap Page.

Steele began working on the dossier in June 2016 for Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C., research firm, on behalf of a Democratic client. The document, which was published online shortly before Trump’s inauguration, contained salacious but unverified allegations that Russians held compromising material on the president.

Trump and his allies have pointed to the dossier as evidence of surveillance abuses.

Barr said the dossier is a key part of his probe.

“It’s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that, especially one that on its face had a number of clear mistakes and a somewhat jejune analysis,” Barr said in an interview with Fox News on Friday. “And to use that to conduct counterintelligence against an American political campaign is a strange — would be strange development.”

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Donald Trump in Wisconsin
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Donald Trump in Wisconsin
US President Donald Trump claps as he leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Scott Walker, former governor of Wisconsin, center, waves during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump and executive vice president of development and acquisitions with the Trump Organization Inc., distributes hats to the crowd ahead of a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. As his 2020 campaign gears up, President Donald Trump is putting an early focus on the three Rust Belt states that sent him to the White House after Republican losses in midterm elections showed his support in the region is fading. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, UNITED STATES - 2019/04/27: An NRA member and Trump supporter wearing a MAGA hat looks at a shotgun during the third day of the National Rifle Association convention. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Attendees hold placards during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump waves during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees hold placards during a rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump Jr., son of U.S. President Donald Trump and executive vice president of development and acquisitions with the Trump Organization Inc., speaks during a rally with President Trump in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. President Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, April 27, 2019. Trump on Saturday night revved up his campaign pitch to voters in key Rust Belt states by touting the U.S. economy, saying he's working to stop jobs from moving to neighboring countries, and mocking his Democratic opponents. Photographer: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump waves during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump claps during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Supporters listen as US President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump leaves after speaking during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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Last month, Barr touched off a firestorm during a hearing on Capitol Hill by saying he believed “spying did occur” in the probe.

Earlier this week, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that spying is “not the term I would use.”

“Lots of people have different colloquial phrases,” Wray said during testimony on the FBI’s budget for 2020. “I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity, and part of investigative activity includes surveillance.”

Wray’s remarks drew the ire of Trump.

“I certainly didn’t understand that answer,” the president told reporters. “I thought it was a ridiculous answer.”

But other former FBI officials have dismissed the spying claims.

In an interview with the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” former FBI chief counsel Jim Baker said, “I believe what happened was lawful, at least based on every piece of information that I have.”

Baker said he plans to fully cooperate with Barr’s investigation “to help them figure out what happened.”

“I welcome scrutiny,” Baker said.

In a new interview with the Wall Street Journal, Barr again said spying occurred in the Russia investigation.

“Government power was used to spy on American citizens,” Barr said. “I can’t imagine any world where we wouldn’t take a look and make sure that was done properly.”

Former FBI Director James Comey, whose dismissal by Trump led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, sharply disagrees.

“I have no idea what [Barr’s] talking about,” Comey said on “CBS This Morning” earlier this month. “The FBI doesn’t spy. The FBI investigates.”

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