Trump-Russia collusion investigations

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein ‘will let Congress see classified information’ after meeting with Donald Trump

The meeting came a day after US President Donald Trump demanded the US Justice Department investigate whether the FBI had an informant inside his 2016 campaign

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 4:38am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 6:15am

The Justice Department agreed to ask its official watchdog to look into “any irregularities” in its investigation of Donald Trump’s campaign and to allow Congress to see “highly classified information” after US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray met with the president at the White House on Monday.

Trump had demanded in a tweet on Sunday that Justice investigate whether the FBI had an informant inside his 2016 presidential campaign. Rosenstein responded by asking the department’s inspector general to include the issue in an ongoing review of the FBI’s counter-intelligence investigation of Russian meddling in the campaign.

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“Based on the meeting with the President, the Department of Justice has asked the inspector general to expand its current investigation to include any irregularities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s or the Department of Justice’s tactics concerning the Trump campaign,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

She said the men also agreed that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would set up a meeting where congressional leaders can review “highly classified and other information they have requested” from the Justice Department’s inquiry into Russian meddling and whether anyone close to Trump colluded in it.

The president’s campaign sent out a fundraising plea to supporters shortly before the meeting, titled “WORSE than Watergate,” asking them to support his demand “that this abuse of power gets investigated.”

“This could be the greatest political scandal in American history,” the solicitation declared, in all-capital letters.

Rosenstein declined to answer questions from reporters upon his return from the White House.

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Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Politico that Trump would ask the Justice Department officials to turn over to Congress and his legal team all memos they have about the purported informant. Trump tweeted that he would order the Justice Department to investigate the matter on Sunday.

“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 said Sunday on Twitter.

Some House Republicans allied with the president have dismissed Rosenstein’s move to have the inspector general look into the matter.

“Rod Rosenstein knows exactly what happened and what is in the documents requested by Congress,” Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican and Trump confidant, said on Twitter.

“Either the matter warranted investigation long ago and he did nothing, or he’s seen the facts and believes nothing is wrong. His belated referral to the IG is not news … it is a ruse.”

Trump’s demand marked the first time since firing FBI Director James Comey last year that the president has sought to use the power of his office to counter the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and his campaign’s possible involvement.

There’s no evidence that the FBI installed an informant or spy in Trump’s campaign, though the bureau did rely on an informant who was in contact with Trump associates, according to two US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The use of informants is routine in law enforcement investigations, even in their preliminary stages.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also took part in Monday’s White House meeting, according to two US officials. He also will be part of the meeting Kelly will convene, Sanders said.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes has complained that the Justice Department and Rosenstein specifically have stonewalled him on requests for documents related to the Russia probe, including details of the FBI’s use of an informant.

Trump has sympathised with Nunes in tweets, and called him “a very courageous man” in a speech Monday at the CIA to mark the swearing-in of its new director, Gina Haspel.