Donald Trump

Donald Trump slams ‘disgraced’ ex-CIA chief for ‘hit job’ Russia investigation in Twitterstorm

The US president tweeted a Fox News analyst’s comments disparaging the former CIA director John Brennan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 2:09am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 3:46am

US President Donald Trump attacked the investigation of possible collusion between his campaign and Russia as a “political hit job” on Monday, claiming that the CIA and FBI were out of control in investigating his team.

A day after demanding the Justice Department investigate the FBI’s use of an informant in his 2016 campaign, Trump assailed former CIA chief John Brennan as having initiated the inquiry into his team’s contacts with Russia.

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Trump’s broadside came soon before the swearing-in of Gina Haspel as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency, during which he introduced her as “a very special person,” uniquely qualified to lead “the most elite intelligence professionals on the planet Earth”.

Yet in a series of tweets, Trump lashed out at Brennan, the CIA’s head from 2013 to 2017, quoting Fox News commentator Dan Bongino as saying he had “started this entire debacle about President Trump”.

“This was a Political hit job, this was not an Intelligence Investigation,” Trump tweeted, citing Bongino. “John Brennan is panicking. He has disgraced himself, he has disgraced the Country, he has disgraced the entire Intelligence Community.”

Trump was referring to the exposure of a British-based CIA source over the weekend who reportedly befriended several Trump campaign aides in 2016 to help the nascent FBI investigation into Russian election meddling.

On Friday, Trump said “at least one” FBI representative was “implanted” in his campaign.

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On Sunday he followed up by demanding that the Justice Department investigate whether the bureau infiltrated his campaign for political purposes, and whether it was done at the behest of Barack Obama’s administration.

The demand sparked fears of a direct clash with top Justice Department officials. But concerns eased after the department said that its inspector general would examine the issue.

“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Trump’s tweets were the latest salvo in a mounting White House and Republican effort to weaken the Russia investigation by the special counsel Robert Mueller, tarring it as politically motivated amid concerns that the inquiry’s outcome could eventually fuel an effort to impeach Trump.

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With polls showing the electorate is opposed to any move to impeach the president, Republicans believe the issue can play to their advantage in November’s congressional elections.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said on Sunday that Mueller, who has already issued 22 indictments, wants to finish the investigation by the start of September to avoid overlapping with election campaigns.

But that deadline is apparently contingent on Mueller interviewing the president, an issue still unresolved after months of talks.

Giuliani says the Trump-Russia collusion probe will end within months

The Trump offensive against the investigation mounted as The New York Times on Sunday reported previously unknown contacts in 2016 between the president’s son Donald Trump Jnr, an Israeli media consultant and a representative of Gulf princes, who were making legally questionable offers to help the Trump presidential run.

One focus of the Mueller investigation is a June 2016 meeting involving Trump Jnr and other top campaign officials and a Russia lawyer who had promised them “dirt” on Trump’s election rival, Hillary Clinton.

The president dismissed the Times story and repeated his charge that Mueller’s investigation was staffed by “heavily conflicted Democrats” and people who had worked for Obama.

Meanwhile Roger Stone, a long-time Republican strategist who had an unofficial role supporting the Trump campaign, told NBC News on Sunday that he is “prepared” to be charged by the investigation.

“It is not inconceivable now that Mr. Mueller and his team may seek to conjure up some extraneous crime pertaining to my business, or maybe not even pertaining to the 2016 election,” Stone said.

“It appears to be an effort to silence or punish the president’s supporters and his advocates,” he added.