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

Grant Boone
May 22, 2018

The request came after Trump tweeted on Sunday that he planned to order an investigation into whether the FBI or DOJ "infiltrated or surveilled" his campaign "for political purposes".

Experts said a demand by Trump for a criminal probe rather than a Justice Department Inspector General inquiry could prompt a similar outcome.

Mr Trump's simmering anger over special counsel Robert Mueller's year-old Russian Federation probe appeared to spill over into a series of well-worn recriminations in several tweets, including that the investigation was politically motivated and had its roots in the administration of his Democratic predecessor.

"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.). Yesterday's tweeted announcement from Trump left unclear exactly what action he would request from the Justice Department. "His gambit Sunday also fits into an effort by the White House, Trump's allies on Capitol Hill, and conservative media cheerleaders to muddy the reputations and any eventual findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's team as well as to cement the President's political base".

The US Department of Justice will investigate whether FBI agents spied on President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign for "inappropriate purposes". The suggestion by Trump would undermine former FBI Director James Comey's claim that the feds didn't begin investigating the campaign until late July 2016.

It's a good case study in how outlandish theories created to discredit the Mueller investigation and bolster Trump's position travel from the fringes to the White House.

Benjamin Wittes, a senior governance fellow at the Brookings Institution and the editor-in-chief of Lawfare, posted a tweet that called Trump's move "a nakedly corrupt attempt" to derail the investigation and predicted that forcing a probe would prompt both Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.

US to examine Trump's allegation his campaign was under surveillance

It was not clear what kind of response Mr Trump was seeking from the Justice Department, since investigations are usually kept secret.

Trump has constantly attacked the inquiry and first made the accusation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had sent a spy into his campaign team on Friday.

But Democrats and members of the intelligence community have warned against unmasking a source because they say this puts lives at risk.

He noted that Trump was "openly mocked" when he alleged that the Obama administration placed his campaign under surveillance.

There was speculation from United States media commentators that Mr Trump's demand was an attempt to force senior justice officials into resigning. The envoy offered to help the Trump presidential campaign, according to the Times ― similar to the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Jr. two months earlier under the guise of providing what the Trump campaign believed was damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"We're not going to go to another meeting where we don't get documents, and then the meeting leaks out", the California Republican said during an interview on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures" with Maria Bartiromo. "It stops espionage. To do that, they run confidential informants into the suspects", said Baer, a CNN national security analyst.

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