Attorney General William Barr shut down Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) after the lawmaker grilled him over his use of the term “spying” to describe the surveillance tactics the FBI employed on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Whitehouse asked, “You used the word spying about authorized DOJ investigative activities…In the entirety of your previous career at the Department of Justice including as attorney general have you ever referred to authorized department investigative activities, officially or publicly, as spying?”

“I’m not going to abjure the use of the word ‘spying,’” Barr said. “My first job was in CIA. I don’t think the word ‘spying’ has any pejorative connotation at all.”

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He continued, “I think spying is a good English word that, in fact, doesn’t have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating really all forms of covert intelligence collection, so I’m not going to back off the word ‘spying,’ except I will say I’m not suggesting any pejorative and I use it frequently…”

Barr pointed out that many members of the media use the term “spying” to refer to authorized surveillance activities.

“Frankly, we went back and looked at press usage and up until all the faux outrage a couple of weeks ago, it’s commonly used in the press to refer to authorized activities,” he said.

“It’s not commonly used by the Department,” Whitehouse said.

Barr replied, “It’s commonly used by me.”