By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General William Barr, displaying a little-known talent, played "Scotland the Brave" on his bagpipes on Wednesday, joining in with the New York City Police Department's famed Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society.
The performance by the band, set up by U.S. attorneys in Maryland and Virginia as a surprise for Barr, occurred at a Justice Department conference in Washington.
Barr, named attorney general by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in February, is a competitive bagpiper.
Barr said afterward that when he learned of the pipe band's appearance, despite the attorneys' efforts to keep it under wraps, he decided to do them one better and join in.
“I’m very proficient at, dare I say the word, spying," he said, in a joking reference to comments he made earlier this year at a U.S. Senate hearing when he testified that intelligence agencies spied on Trump's 2016 campaign.
Barr has been criticized by Democrats in Congress over his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to boost Trump's candidacy and the president's attempts to impede the inquiry.
Those criticisms have included Barr's decision to probe Republicans' allegations that Trump's campaign was illegally spied on by U.S. intelligence agencies including the FBI.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Susan Thomas)