- Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Sunday afternoon that he would instruct the Justice Department to look into whether the FBI planted an informant in his presidential campaign for political purposes.
- After reports indicated an FBI informant had spoken with Trump campaign officials over concerns about their ties to Russia, Trump on Friday floated the possibility that the FBI had embedded an informant in his campaign.
- It’s not the first time he’s accused the FBI of misconduct without providing evidence.
President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Sunday afternoon that he would instruct the Justice Department to look into whether the FBI planted an informant in his presidential 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!” Trump wrote.
The tweet followed a barrage of similar ones earlier Sunday in which he attacked Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, and the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling.
Following Trump’s tweet, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores issued a statement to the news website Axios that stopped short of backing Trump’s demand.
“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,” she told Axios.
“As always, the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate US Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct.”
- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also issued a statement, saying: “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”
After the president tweeted that accusation on Friday, his new attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN: “I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one.”
Neither Trump nor Giuliani provided any evidence of government infiltration into Trump’s presidential campaign.
The New York Times reported on Friday that the FBI used an informant to investigate Russian ties to the campaign. The bureau reportedly sent the informant to speak with Trump campaign aides George Papadopoulos and Carter Page over concerns about their connections to Russia.
That took place far before the special counsel investigation started, when the FBI was confidentially investigating whether Russia was trying to help or influence members of Trump’s campaign, keeping the operation, code-named “Crossfire Hurricane”, secret so as to not affect the presidential election. Mueller’s probe started in May 2017.
Sunday was not the first time Trump had accused the Department of Justice and the FBI of seeking to undermine his campaign for political purposes. In March of last year, Trump tweeted that President Barack Obama had wiretapped his phones the month before the 2016 election.
Trump did not offer any evidence to back up that claim, and he was widely derided for making the baseless accusation. The Justice Department said it had “no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets.”