Justice, FBI, Intelligence Bosses Meet At White House Amid Snooping Standoff

May 21, 2018

Updated at 3:12 p.m.

Top intelligence and law enforcement leaders were set to meet Monday at the White House amidst an escalation of pressure by President Trump on the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats were set to meet on Monday with Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, NPR confirmed.

The president has been on offense against DoJ and the FBI following press reports that described the use of a confidential informant by investigators as they looked into Russian agents’ overtures to Trump campaign aides in 2016.

Trump and his supporters say the stories amount to suggestions that President Barack Obama’s administration improperly spied on the Trump campaign.

The allegations also follow an earlier charge, which was later deflated, that Obama ordered a wiretap at Trump Tower, and that Obama-era officials may have improperly viewed intelligence that involved Trump campaign aides.

Trump vowed on Twitter over the weekend that he would “officially” demand information from the Justice Department and the FBI about the early phases of the Russia investigation.

The Justice Department is already examining aspects of its Russia investigation, including its use of surveillance of people in the Trump orbit, and it said on Sunday that it would incorporate the president’s request into that work. Rosenstein said in a written statement that the department would find out if there had been any wrongdoing.

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

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s reelection campaign alluded to their pressure on the Justice Department in a fundraising email on Monday: “This could be the greatest political scandal in American history,” the campaign wrote to supporters.

At the same time, some former Justice Department and intelligence officials say there’s not only so far no evidence of a scandal but that Trump is overstepping the bounds that should constrain presidential interference in an ongoing investigation.

“I think at some point he made a decision that his case — whether that be the obstruction case or the conspiracy charges that involve Russia meddling in the election — that that’s not going to be won in court,” former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore told NPR on Monday. “And so he’s made a decision to move the case now to the court of public opinion.”

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