President Donald Trump

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Trump Meets With Rosenstein, Wray After Demanding Probe Of FBI 'Infiltration' Into Campaign

May 21, 2018 - 2:48 pm
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WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/AP) -- President Donald Trump on Monday met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, a day after promising to "demand" that the Justice Department investigate whether his presidential campaign was "infiltrated or surveilled" for political purposes.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the Russia probe, and FBI director Christopher Wray will meet with the president Monday afternoon.

Sanders said the meeting was scheduled last week and is focused "on response to congressional requests." Congressional Republicans have been seeking documents relating to a confidential informant who helped investigate potential Russian collusion by the Trump campaign, but the Justice Department has opposed the move citing the sensitivity of the matter.

Rosenstein directed the department's inspector general to investigate Trump's claims of surveillance Sunday.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “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 issued additional tweets on the subject quoting conservative commentator and former Secret Service agent Dan Bonigno, slamming former CIA Director John Brennan and accusing Brennan of starting the “entire debacle” about Trump and Russia.

Speaking to WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot and Paul Murnane Monday morning, CBS News White House Correspondent Steven Portnoy noted that the Justice Department has tasked its independent inspector general with investigating the infiltration claim.

“The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, said in a statement that if anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a political campaign for inappropriate purposes, the Justice Department needs to know so it can take the appropriate action. You know, the president has been furious for the last couple of weeks over reports that at least two members of his campaign were contacted by an FBI source,” Portnoy said. “Published reports have said that this man is a U.K.-based professor.”

The reports identified the professor as Cambridge academic Stefan Halper, and said he met with Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos in 2016.

Bloomberg reporter Billy House told WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg that Trump’s infiltration allegations will likely be used to bolster Republicans’ case that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian involvement in the 2016 election should come to an end.

“That’s probably the ultimate goal – the fight over whether the FBI put a spy in the Trump campaign really is just the latest wrinkle in Republicans saying that Mueller’s inquiry should be shut down. They’re saying it’s tainted by improper actions early on, and therefore should be shut down because it’s based and rooted in illegal actions,” House said.

Portnoy noted that Trump has for the past year and a half made it clear that he believes the Justice Department “has targeted him unfairly at the exclusion of his 2016 campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton.”

The question remains as to whether Rosenstein’s decision to hand the matter off to the inspector general will be sufficient from Trump’s perspective, Portnoy said.

“One of the president’s allies on this, a lawyer named Joe diGenova who was a federal prosecutor here in Washington, D.C., told a radio station in D.C. this morning that this move by Rosenstein is ‘too cute by half,’ and should infuriate the president,” Portnoy said.

Ultimately, Trump may want go further than to hand the matter off to the inspector general, Portnoy said.

“Apparently, the inspector general doesn’t have the power to subpoena people who no longer work in the department. So that would include people like James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and perhaps others,” he said.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)