Justice Department to examine Trump's claim of FBI surveillance of campaign
President Donald Trump.
Updated: The Department of Justice says its inspector general will look into President Donald Trump's claim Sunday that his campaign was the target of infiltration or surveillance by the FBI.
The review will expand an evaluation of the FISA application process begun in March. NBC News, CNN, and the Washington Post have coverage.
In one of several Sunday morning tweets, the president said, “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes—and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”
Two days earlier, Trump tweeted about a possible FBI informant in his campaign. However, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said neither he nor the president knows for sure if it really happened. That followed a New York Times report on Wednesday that said at least one government informant reportedly met with then-campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and then-foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
Later on Sunday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement that “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” CNN reports.
Added DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, “The Department has asked the Inspector General to expand the ongoing review of the FISA application process to include determining whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election,” according to NBC.
In March, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said there would be an investigation into Republican complaints of FBI wrongdoing in the early stages of the Russia probe.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., slammed Trump over his order on Sunday. “The Justice Department is not an arm of the White House. The Justice Department is independent and serves the American people,” Feinstein tweeted. “Its job is to follow the facts and the law. Law enforcement investigations must be initiated and carried out free from political interference.”
Also on Sunday, Giuliani said that special counsel Robert Mueller hopes to wrap up its probe of Russian influence into the 2016 election by Sept. 1, the Times and ABC News report.
“We needed some indication how long it will take for them to write a report,” Giuliani told ABC.
Giuliani, a former Greenberg Traurig partner, told the Times that Mueller’s office shared its timeline two weeks ago. A spokesman for Mueller did not comment to the Times.
According to Reuters, though, an unnamed source familiar with the probe called the September deadline “entirely made-up.”
Mueller will “wrap it up when he thinks he’s turned over every rock, and when that is will depend on how cooperative witnesses, persons of interest and maybe even some targets are, if any of those emerge, and on what new evidence he finds, not on some arbitrary, first-of-the-month deadline one of the president’s attorneys cooks up,” the source said.
I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
Updated at 12:32 p.m. with Reuters report on the Sept. 1 deadline.