Responding to President Donald Trump’s demand on Sunday that the Justice Department launch a probe into whether his 2016 campaign was unlawfully surveilled by the FBI for “political purposes”—a claim the president has made repeatedly without offering any evidence—Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he has asked the inspector general (IG) to look into Trump’s allegations.
“We are in a state of constitutional crisis when we have a DOJ acting at the behest of the president.”
—Kristen Clarke, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
“If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement that some legal analysts characterized as a “dangerous” capitulation to a president who is himself under federal investigation.
“The IG shouldn’t be pursuing political charges made by the president based on zero evidence,” argued MSNBC legal analyst Matthew Miller in response to Rosenstein’s statement.
Trump’s demand for an investigation into the actions of the Obama administration’s FBI came on the heels of his repeated threats in recent weeks to “get involved” with the Justice Department if special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe doesn’t end quickly—warnings that critics denounced as explicit threats to obstruct justice.
“We are in a state of constitutional crisis when we have a DOJ acting at the behest of the president,” Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, wrote on the heels of Trump’s tweet, which capped off a prolonged Sunday Twitter rant in which the president continued to call Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt.”
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