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Trump demands probe into his FBI spying allegation

In the latest in a flurry of Sunday tweets, the president says he wants to know if Obama administration officials requested a covert campaign operation.

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House on Friday. Photo Credit: AP / Susan Walsh

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday demanded the Department of Justice investigate whether the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes.”

“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.

The tweet was the latest in a string of tweets Trump has posted in the past week alleging there was an informant “implanted” in his 2016 campaign by the FBI.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a statement said: “If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action.”

Late in the day, Department of Justice Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement the agency has asked its inspector general to investigate “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence.”

The missive came after the president ticked off six morning tweets railing against the department’s probe into Russian election interference and purported ties to his campaign.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, facing public pressure from Trump’s legal team to wrap up the more than yearlong probe, has reportedly told the president’s attorneys that by Sept. 1, he will aim to complete an investigation into whether Trump attempted to obstruct the Russia probe by firing former FBI Director James Comey, according to The New York Times.

Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told the Times on Sunday, that Mueller’s team shared the date with the president’s attorneys two weeks ago as part of negotiations aimed at getting the president to testify before the special counsel.

The president’s demand for an investigation into an informant stems largely from an article published in the conservative magazine National Review, which questioned whether there was an “FBI spy in the Trump campaign?”

The New York Times reported Friday that an FBI informant had indeed met with two former Trump campaign advisers — George Papadopoulos and Carter Page — but was only dispatched to meet with the two aides after investigators received intelligence that both men had suspicious ties to Russia. Papadopolous has since been indicted by Mueller, and has pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russia.

Republicans have been pushing for access to documents that would reveal the informant’s identity, while Democrats have argued that revealing the source would endanger the informant’s life and pose a national security risk.

Trump also pushed back on Twitter against another New York Times report that indicated his eldest son and campaign aides met with foreign operatives who offered to assist the real estate mogul’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The president, in a series of morning tweets, used the article to argue that Mueller’s probe has so far “found nothing,” prompting Mueller to look “at the rest of the world” as part of a “Witch Hunt” aimed at undermining Trump’s 2016 victory.

“Things are really getting ridiculous,” Trump tweeted. “The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!”

Trump’s tweet came a day after the Times published an article detailing an August 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., George Nader, an emissary for the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and Joel Zamel, an Israeli political strategist. The meeting was reportedly arranged by Erik Prince, a Republican donor who previously served as the head of Blackwater, a private defense contracting firm.

According to the Times, Nader told Trump Jr. the crown princes were willing to offer the Trump campaign assistance in defeating Clinton. Zamel also offered his aid, pitching a multimillion-dollar plan to manipulate social media to benefit Trump, the Times reported.

Trump Jr.’s attorney, in a statement provided to the Times, acknowledged the initial meeting, but said the president’s son was not “interested” in their assistance “and that was the end of it.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the status of Carter Page in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Page has not been indicted.

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