U.S. President Donald Trump launched a fresh attack on Wednesday against his attorney general, calling Jeff Sessions’ decision to have the Justice Department inspector general – and not prosecutors – investigate alleged surveillance abuse “disgraceful.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump launched a fresh attack on Wednesday against his attorney general, calling Jeff Sessions’ decision to have the Justice Department inspector general – and not prosecutors – investigate alleged surveillance abuse “disgraceful.”
Trump took to Twitter to criticize Sessions for not referring the allegations to Justice Department lawyers and instead assigning the probe to Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
“Why is A.G. Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate massive FISA abuse,” Trump wrote, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the government uses to monitor the communications of suspected foreign agents.
“Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey, etc.,” Trump continued. “Isn’t the IG an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? Disgraceful.”
Horowitz was sworn into his position in April 2012, during the Obama administration.
Trump’s public criticism clashes with longstanding principle under which the Justice Department operates independently from the president.
Trump has crossed that line numerous times, for example by promising to have his 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton investigated and criticizing court decisions on his immigration policy.
He has previously attacked Sessions, mostly notably for recusing himself from the Justice Department investigation, headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into whether there was collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign.
Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion and Russia has said it did not meddle in the election, contradicting the assessment of senior U.S. security officials.
The president’s latest attack on the nation’s chief law enforcement agency came a day after Sessions told a news conference that he was referring to Horowitz the allegations of FISA surveillance abuses by the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes.
Reporting by Jonathan Landay; editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis
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