The Justice Department’s inspector general will examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign. The president demanded such a probe after reports that a federal informant approached Trump campaign aides.
The Justice Department asked its internal watchdog to examine if there was any impropriety in the counterintelligence investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign, after the president demanded that DOJ investigate the motives behind the inquiry, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a tweet, Trump referred to a man who approached at least two Trump campaign aides in 2016 in connection with the counterintelligence investigation into the campaign. The suspected informant is Stefan Halper, an American who was a foreign policy scholar at the University of Cambridge until 2015. Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said the agency had asked the inspector general to expand a probe into how the FBI and federal prosecutors obtained warrants from the nation’s secret spy court to surveil a onetime Trump campaign aide. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said, If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”
Trump has railed against the investigation regularly in the year since it began and has stepped up his attacks in recent days. He and his lawyers have seized on reports about the informant as evidence in their view that the probe isn’t about Russia’s efforts to influence the election but rather a partisan attack leveled by a Democratic administration. Former law-enforcement officials said informants in a probe involving a presidential campaign should only be used for law-enforcement or foreign-intelligence purposes, not for political ends. The president’s latest attacks come as his lawyers try to negotiate the terms of a possible interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who already has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 19 individuals on charges including lying to investigators and tax and bank fraud.