Trump orders Justice Department to investigate FBI | News | DW | 20.05.2018
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Trump orders Justice Department to investigate FBI

President Trump has called for an inquiry into whether the FBI surveilled his campaign for "political purposes." Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said a probe into Russia's meddling in the US election could end by September.

In a series of tweets posted on Sunday, US President Donald Trump attacked the FBI's Russia probe and announced that he would demand that the Justice Department investigate a possible FBI infiltration of his presidential campaign.

Trump also wants to know if the supposed infiltration was ordered by President Barack Obama's administration.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the department had asked Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz to expand an ongoing investigation into FBI conduct ahead of the 2016 presidential election to determine whether there was impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its investigation.

Read more: What you need to know about the five inquiries looking into Donald Trump, James Comey and Russia

'Biggest political scandal'

The allegations appear to come from conservative circles, which have theorized that a possible FBI spy had infiltrated the Trump campaign.

The president reignited the subject on Friday, quoting Fox Business show host David Asman, who said the politically motivated surveillance had "never been done before" and that the FBI and Justice Department were "out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn't commit." 

The president later wrote that if the allegations were true, it would be the "all time biggest political scandal!"

Trump had harbored suspicion since last year that his campaign had been spied by the Obama administration.

In March 2017, the president tweeted that in October 2016, Obama had conducted surveillance at Trump Tower in New York, which had served as headquarters to his campaign and also his place of residence. Trump provided no proof to back up his claim.

James Comey, gives testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee (Getty Images/AFP/C. Somodevilla)

Comey said there was no evidence Obama tapped Trump's phones

Then-FBI Director James Comey dispelled the notion, later testifying to Congress that internal reviews found no information to support the president's allegation. Comey was later fired over the FBI's Russia investigation.

The New York Times, citing current and former FBI officials, reported last week that at least one government informant had met several times with campaign officials Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. The Times said the informant met with Page and Papadopolous over suspicious contacts they had that linked them to Russia.

Read more: Opinion: One year of Donald Trump — time for a sober examination

Ongoing investigation

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with congressional Republicans, had already requested an investigation to review whether FBI and Justice Department officials had abused their surveillance powers. In March, Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz confirmed that the investigation would take place.

Representative Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump's claim of an embedded spy was "nonsense."

Mueller probe to end before midterms

Trump's lawyer in the Russia probe, Rudy Giuliani, told The Associated Press that if the president agreed to an interview with Mueller in July, the special counsel investigation could conclude by September 1.

Read more: Trump before Trump: Examining Rudy Giuliani's nine lives

Giuliani added that his team was actively working to make the interview happen and expressed his fears to AP that if the probe took too long to conclude, it could damage Republicans chances in the midterm elections.

jcg/sms (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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