Trump to ask Justice Dept to look into campaign surveillance claims
U.S. President Donald Trump demanded on Twitter on May 20 that the Justice Department look into whether his 2016 presidential campaign was infiltrated or surveilled by the agency or the FBI under the Obama administration.
Trump’s simmering anger over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s year-old Russia 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, Barack Obama.
Federal investigators are looking into whether Russia tried to sway the election and if it worked with the Trump campaign to do so. Trump has denied any collusion and repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt.”
“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!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump also escalated his attacks on the Justice Department on Friday, suggesting that the FBI may have planted or recruited an informant in his 2016 presidential campaign. He cited unidentified reports that at least one FBI representative was “implanted” for political purposes into his campaign.
Neither Trump nor Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor who is now one of Trump’s lawyers, provided any evidence of government infiltration into Trump’s presidential campaign. Giuliani acknowledged in a CNN interview on Friday that neither he nor the president really knew if such action took place.
Giuliani was quoted by the New York Times later on May 20 as saying that Mueller had said the investigation would wrap up by Sept. 1.
A source familiar with the probe called the Sept. 1 deadline “entirely made-up” and “another apparent effort to pressure the special counsel to hasten the end of his work.”
“He’ll 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,” said the source, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In September, the Justice Department said it had no evidence to support another of Trump’s unsubstantiated assertions: that Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.
It was unclear what kind of response Trump was seeking from the Justice Department this time, since investigations are kept secret and designed to be insulated from political influence and White House meddling.