President Donald Trump demanded on Sunday that the Justice Department investigate whether his campaign was infiltrated and surveilled for political purposes and if anyone in the Obama administration ordered this to be done.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
The president’s statement comes after anonymous government officials leaked the identity of an FBI spy who infiltrated the Trump campaign in 2016. Trump also suggested earlier on Saturday that he will use his executive powers to break an impasse between the Justice Department and Congress on documents regarding the Russia probe.
“If the FBI or DOJ was infiltrating a campaign for the benefit of another campaign, that is a really big deal,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2018
The Justice Department withheld the name of the spy and other documents from Republicans in Congress but leaked the identity and select details to The Washington Post and The New York Times.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes threatened to hold Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in contempt and start impeachment proceedings in order to obtain the documents in question. Nunes denies that his request concerns any specific individual.
At least one spy met with minor Trump campaign members Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, anonymous government officials told New York Times. The Washington Post reported that the same spy has provided information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which started in May last year. Mueller took over FBI’s counter-intelligence probe which, according to anonymous FBI leaks, started on July 31, 2016.
The Justice Department argued that the spy’s identity is so sensitive that revealing it would endanger his or her life. It is unclear what has changed about the spy’s status since that dire warning and the leaks to the media.
Though the identity of the spy would only be officially confirmed if and when the Justice Department releases his or her name, The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reported on Saturday that the details leaked to the Times and the Post “match up perfectly” with his March report on Stefan Halper, a Cambridge professor with ties to the CIA and MI6.
Halper contacted Page, Papadopoulos, and another adviser, Sam Clovis, during the 2016 campaign. Halper first met Page in mid-July 2016 and the pair stayed in touch for the next 14 months. Halper met Clovis for coffee on Aug. 31 or Sept. 1.
Halper’s relationship with Papadopoulos started with an unsolicited email on Sept. 2, 2016, with an offer to fly the Trump campaign adviser to London to discuss writing a policy paper on energy issues in Turkey, Israel, and Cyprus. Halper offered Papadopoulos $3,000 for the work.
During one of their meetings, Halper asked Papadopoulos whether he knew anything about emails hacked by Russians from the DNC server. Papadopoulos denied any knowledge, according to Daily Caller sources.
Halper’s assistant, Azra Turk, also brought up Russians and emails when she had drinks with Papadopoulos and flirted with him heavily.
Turk recently terminated her phone account. Halper has not responded to the Daily Caller’s requests for comment.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty of lying to the FBI about his contacts with another professor, Joseph Mifsud.
In April 2016, Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he knew that the Russian government had access to Clinton emails. Two weeks later, Papadopoulos reportedly mentioned stolen Clinton emails during a boozy conversation with a top Australian diplomat.
The FBI now claims, according to anonymous leaks to the New York Times, that this conversation with the Australian diplomat is the reason for the start of the ongoing two-year-long investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.
The investigation has not produced any evidence of collusion.