Amid President Trump’s continued frustration about spying on his campaign in 2016, the White House was noncommittal when asked whether the president wants to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Not that I know of,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
She added later, “The president has made his frustrations very clear.”
The president criticized Mr. Sessions on Twitter Wednesday after he asked the Justice Department’s Inspector General, who was appointed by President Obama, to investigate allegations of FISA abuses within the department and the FBI. Several Republicans have asked Mr. Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to look into the accusations.
Mr. Trump said an inspector general’s probe “will take forever” and wondered aloud why Mr. Sessions didn’t use Justice lawyers instead to investigate “massive” abuses under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“The president’s made clear that he has a lot of concerns… with the current FISA process,” Mrs. Sanders said. “Nothing makes the problems of FISA [clearer] than what was outlined in the Republican and Democrat memos” from the House Intelligence Committee.
Those memos outlined, in varying degrees, that the FBI used a dossier complied by a British spy and funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee to apply for a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign operative.
“The FBI used political campaign material to get a warrant to spy on American citizens,” Mrs. Sanders said. “They failed to disclose to the judge that the dossier was funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, even as it was being used to spy on people associated with the Trump campaign.”
She added, “Obviously, that alone shows us that the process needs to be looked at closely, and reformed to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect the privacy of American citizens.”
Mr. Sessions rejected the president’s attack on Wednesday.
Sessions rejected the attack.
“We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary,” he said in a statement. “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.”
The Justice Department’s inspector general has an ongoing investigation into how the Clinton email investigation was handled by the FBI and Justice.
The president’s criticism of Mr. Sessions this week is just the latest blast directed at his attorney general. Mr. Trump has expressed anger about Mr. Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the ongoing Russia investigation.
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