On Monday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray met with President Donald Trump at the White House, which came a day after he tweeted that he would "demand" the Justice Department investigate whether his 2016 presidential campaign had been "infiltrated or surveilled" for political purposes by an alleged FBI informant. Neither Wray or Rosenstein had any comment when they left the White House. Press secretary Sarah Sanders released a subsequent statement indicating that Rosenstein had agreed in part to Trump’s order. However, some of Trump’s critics, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), called Trump’s call a form of inappropriate interference.

Sander’s statement said that the DOJ has asked DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities in the tactics used by the FBI and the department concerning the Trump campaign. The statement declared that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will soon meet with the FBI, DOJ, and the Director of National Intelligence, as well as Congressional leaders to review “highly classified and other information they have requested." The White House stopped short of calling for the release of certain documents that have been demanded by Republican members of Congress.

On Sunday, the president released a tweet stating that he would direct DOJ to look into the FBI and DOJ and any alleged infiltration or surveillance of the Trump campaign “for political purposes.” Later that day, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein 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."

"The Department has asked the Inspector General to expand the ongoing review of the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] 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," DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement. "As always the Inspector General will consult with the appropriate U.S. Attorney if there is any evidence of potential criminal conduct," Flores said.

The Sunday tweet was the latest by the president that suggested that his campaign was the object of a political operation by law enforcement authorities during the 2016 presidential campaign, coupled with reports that the FBI had an informant within the Trump campaign. Attention has focused on Stefan Halper, a professor who once worked for Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1980, and who has reported ties to former president George H.W. Bush, Hillary and Bill Clinton, as well as American and British intelligence services. 

On Fox Business Network, host Maria Bartiromo said on Monday that the FBI, Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, and the Central Intelligence Agency under Barack Obama “were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump.” Bartiromo said, “This is a major presidential election. President Obama, basically, what it appears to me, politicizing all of his agencies. The DOJ, the FBI, the IRS, the CIA — they were all involved in trying to take down Donald Trump.

Bartiromo noted that President Donald Trump issued a tweet on Sunday in which he demanded a DOJ investigation into whether the department or the FBI meddled in his 2016 presidential campaign for "political purposes" or if any “any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” In response, Obama-era CIA director John Brennan appeared to threaten both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan if they continue to enable Mr. Trump’s self-serving actions.”

Saying that after reading Trump’s Sunday tweet, Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano concluded that the president is calling for a criminal investigation. He also noted that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is probing for violations of agency rules, but evidence of criminal wrongdoing is referred elsewhere in the department for criminal prosecution. Napolitano said that he believes that Trump legal counsel Rudy Giuliani has suggested to the president to “go on the offensive” and call for probing the origins of the investigation now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into supposed ties between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.

Napolitano said, “We may be on the precipice of exposing a very, very extraordinary political use of intelligence and law enforcement by the Obama Administration.” He said that the next steps in getting to the bottom of the Obama administration’s meddling in the Trump campaign would be for DOJ Inspector General Horowitz to reveal “what this professor may have done,” and what information may have been obtained from the Trump camp to aid Hillary Clinton’s campaign. This may have been a reference to Stefan Halper -- a professor, Clinton associate, and former Reagan administration official who has reported ties to both British and American intelligence services. “Did the professor inveigle his way into the Trump campaign because the FBI thought crimes were being committed or because the White House wanted to know what Trump was doing so that they could pass that information on to Hillary?”

Bartiromo referred to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who on Sunday said on Fox News that the Friday report in the New York Times about the so-far unnamed FBI informant’s alleged interactions with the Trump campaign was the “mother of all leaks.” The NYT report said that the FBI sent an informant to meet with two Trump campaign volunteers in London after the agency received evidence that the two had ties to Russia. NYT described the informant as “an American academic who teaches in Britain” but added that it “typically does not name informants to preserve their safety.”

Nunes could not confirm whether there was an informant – or multiple – due to lack of information and documents.  “If any of that is true – if they ran a spy ring or an informant ring and they were paying people within the Trump campaign – if any of that is true, that is an absolute red line … You can’t do this to political campaigns,” Nunes told Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “If they didn’t do anything like that, provide us the documents so we can verify it,” he added. Nunes added that the NYT report suggested that the investigation into the Trump campaign may have commenced in the spring of 2016 and before the FBI counterintelligence probe began.

On Saturday, President Trump called for the “release or review” of the documents that the House Intelligence committee has been requesting. “If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal. Only the release or review of documents that the House Intelligence Committee (also, Senate Judiciary) is asking for can give the conclusive answers. Drain the Swamp!” Trump wrote on Twitter. 

On May 16, author and film director Dinesh D’Souza questioned the motivations of Special Counsel’s Mueller’s probe in the light of accusations that the FBI and the DOJ have engaged in political operations against Trump’s candidacy. He asked, “Is Mueller investigating a crime or going in search of a crime? One is police work; the other is characteristic of a police state.”



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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