Published: Tue, May 22, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Antoinette Montgomery

Justice Department to examine Trump's claim of Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance of campaign

Justice Department to examine Trump's claim of Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance of campaign

"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!" the president tweeted Sunday.

"As always", Flores said, "the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate U.S. Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct".

During a meeting with Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray also reiterated an announcement late Sunday that the Justice Department's inspector general will expand an existing investigation into the Russian Federation probe by examining whether there was any improper politically motivated surveillance.

"You do a great disservice to our Nation & the Republican Party if you continue to enable Mr. Trump's self-serving actions", he told House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Rep. Devin Nunes, an ardent Trump supporter and head of the House intelligence committee, has been demanding information on an FBI source in the Russian Federation investigation.

The DOJ announcement comes just hours after Trump tweeted that he planned to demand on Monday that the department look into whether federal agents spied on his campaign for "political purposes".

Some Justice Department officials feared that the president's tweet signaled that he might overrule them and order the department to turn over the material Nunes seeks.

Trump's demand potentially sets up a high-stakes showdown with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray, who have resisted requests from Republican lawmakers to hand over some documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

He said only the release or review of documents the House Intelligence Committee is seeking from the Justice Department "can give conclusive answers".

They have argued that doing so would put the alleged informant's life - or that of his contacts - in danger.

Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said that while Trump has the authority to order Justice Department officials, those officials also have the right to quit rather than follow his direction.

Any improper spying by such an informant would render the entire Mueller probe "completely illegitimate", Giuliani told the Post on Thursday, before acknowledging to CNN Friday that they didn't know "for sure" that such an individual even existed.

Giuliani also said Sunday that Mueller plans to finish his probe by September 1, a claim that the special counsel's team has not commented.

Giuliani acknowledged, though, the timeline could change significantly if the president did not cooperate.

Bruce Fein, a former USA associate deputy attorney general, says there are valid reasons for the Russian investigation as too many people from Trump's campaign team associated with foreign officials. "Our law is not an instrument of partisan objective", said Edward Levi, the Republican-appointed attorney general in the 1970s who helped create the modern Justice Department. None consider that these agencies could have been attempting the hard task of investigating Russia's meddling in the campaign on Trump's behalf without improperly influencing the election by revealing the probe.

In emails and phone calls Sunday afternoon, GOP lawmakers close to Trump conferred and tried to interpret his position.

The president's tweet - and the Justice Department's quick response - left open the possibility that a larger conflict could be averted.

In this July 26, 2017, file photo, Michael Horowitz, inspector general at the Justice Department, pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington.

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