After President Trump took to Twitter over the weekend to demand the Justice Department investigate whether the FBI had abused its surveillance authority the agency's inspector general said it will look into the matter as part of a larger probe already underway.
The president believes the FBI used a third party to make contact with members of the Trump campaign to assess whether it had had any inappropriate communications with Russia meant to sway the 2016 presidential elections, the agency's inspector general will look into the matter as part of a larger probe already underway.
"The Department has asked the Inspector General [Michael Horowitz] to expand the ongoing review of the FISA 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," according to a statement from Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.
“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 tweeted Sunday as news outlets published the identity of a professor dispatched in the summer of 2016 by investigators probing possible collusion to make contact with former Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.
Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, had drunkenly boasted to the Australian ambassador in the U.K. in May 2016 that Russia had dirt on Trump's political opponent Hillary Clinton and Page had been on the intel community's radar since his unwitting association with members of a Russian espionage ring in New York that authorities broke up in 2014.
The president and some GOP lawmakers have contended that investigators abused their surveillance authority in the Trump campaign probe when petitioning the FISA court for a surveillance warrant on Page. In February, after cajoling from the White House and some lawmakers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions tasked Horowitz – rather than appoint a special prosecutor as Trump requested - with investigating the alleged abuse. Monday's announcement by Justice expands that mission to include the circumstances around the use of the professor to make contact with members of the campaign.