Attorney General William Barr said that he does not believe Obama-era Justice Department officials who oversaw the Russia investigation committed treason “as a legal matter.”

In an interview on “CBS This Morning,” Barr was asked if he believed senior officials in President Barack Obama’s administration committed treason while conducting the investigation, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly alleged. An excerpt of the interview aired Thursday evening, and the full interview will air Friday morning.

CBS NEWS EXCLUSIVE: AG Bill Barr tells @JanCBS that Robert Mueller "could've reached a conclusion" on charging Pres. Trump with obstruction of justice, regardless of DOJ policy that prohibits indicting a sitting president.Here's a preview ahead of Friday’s @CBSThisMorning pic.twitter.com/23w07lBAE6

— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 30, 2019

“Not as a legal matter, no,” Barr responded, adding that he did still have concerns about how those officials conducted the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

“You know, sometimes people can convince themselves that what they’re doing is in the higher interest, the better good. They don’t realize that what they’re doing is really antithetical to the democratic system we have,” said the attorney general, who himself made controversial decisions by releasing a summary misrepresenting the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, without releasing the report.

Barr earlier this month launched an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe after several calls by the president to “investigate the investigators.” Last week, Donald Trump granted the attorney general expansive power to declassify counterintelligence documents and ordered intelligence agencies to comply with Barr’s investigation.

The president contends that intelligence officials illegally conducted surveillance of his presidential campaign, repeatedly calling it “spying.” Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee last month that he believed “spying did occur,” a word choice that’s been criticized because it’s not typically used to describe court-authorized monitoring by law enforcement.

“I guess it’s become a dirty word somehow; it hasn’t ever been for me,” he told CBS. “I think there’s nothing wrong with spying. The question is always whether it’s authorized by law and properly predicated, and if it is, then it’s an important tool the United States has to protect the country.”

Former FBI Director James Comey has said he never thought of “court-ordered electronic surveillance” as “spying.” Current FBI Director Christopher Wray said the word is “not the term that I would use.”

RELATED COVERAGE William Barr: U.S. 'Spying' Was Just As Bad As Russian Interference In 2016 William Barr Says He Isn't Blocking Mueller From Testifying William Barr Jokes About Contempt As DOJ Sends Off Rod Rosenstein Download REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus

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