Donald Trump And Jeff Sessions Fight Over Investigation Into FISA Abuse Claims
With Trump questioning Sessions and the loyalty of the inspector general who is investigating the allegations, Sessions pushed back, saying, "As long as I am the Attorney General ... this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner ...."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday responded to President Trump's attack on Sessions' decision to have the Justice Department's inspector general look into allegations of abuse by the department in obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant.
Trump on Wednesday called the move "DISGRACEFUL!" — questioning whether the inspector general is "an Obama guy" — prompting a statement from Sessions that the Justice Department would act in a "fair and impartial manner" for "[a]s long as [he is] the Attorney General."
Critics of the Russia investigation have alleged there was abuse concerning the FISA warrant issued against Carter Page during the 2016 presidential election that was renewed for about six months into the Trump administration. Those allegations were the main issue discussed in the Republicans' House Intelligence Committee memo.
"We believe that the Department of Justice must adhere to the highest standards in the FISA court," Sessions said. "And, yes, it will be investigated, and I think that is just the appropriate thing. The inspector general will take that as one of the matters he'll deal with."
On Wednesday morning, however, Trump tweeted harsh criticism of the move, questioning the process and the loyalties of the inspector general.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Sessions responded to the tweet.
"We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary," he said. "As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution."
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been investigating the FBI's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server and related questions.
Horowitz first began working for the Justice Department as an assistant US attorney back in 1991 and has worked in various roles in and out of government since then, including in government jobs under every administration since former President George H.W. Bush.
As Sessions mentioned in a Fox News interview earlier this month, the IG's investigation has been behind the issues raised about text messages between two FBI officials involved in the Clinton investigation and other matters.
A spokesperson for the DOJ inspector general's office had acknowledged Tuesday that the attorney general asked the inspector general's office to investigate the matter.
Trump's tweet on Wednesday ran counter to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' initial comments.
"I imagine he certainly supports the decision to look into what we feel to be some wrongdoing," Sanders said at Tuesday afternoon's press briefing. "We feel that's the role of the Justice Department and we're glad they're fulfilling that role."
This story was updated with an acknowledgement from the DOJ inspector general's office.
This story was updated to include President Trump's tweet on Wednesday.
This story was updated to include Attorney General Sessions' statement.