President Trump put Attorney General Jeff Sessions back in his political crosshairs on Wednesday, blasting him for tapping an “Obama guy” to investigate allegations of government surveillance abuse.
The president was reacting to Sessions revealing a day earlier that the Justice Department’s inspector general will investigate the allegations, in light of memos released on Capitol Hill about FBI and DOJ efforts to obtain FISA warrants to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser.
“Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!” Trump wrote.
Sessions confirmed on Tuesday, in response to a question from Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, that the abuse accusations would be investigated at the IG level.
“The inspector general will take that as one of the matters he’ll deal with,” he said, in reference to DOJ IG Michael Horowitz.
Horowtiz for months has been investigating the FBI and DOJ’s actions related to the probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email use while secretary of state.
A final report is expected soon, though Trump seemed to complain Wednesday about the amount of time it has taken.
Horowitz was confirmed to the post during the Obama administration, in 2012. However, while Trump labeled him as an “Obama guy,” he also served as commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission during the George W. Bush administration. His generally enjoys a solid reputation – though his work on the Clinton case, and now surveillance abuse, could make him a target for both sides of the aisle.
Trump’s tweet reflected apparent impatience about taking surveillance abuse claims to the next level.
For the past several weeks, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been at war over those allegations.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a memo in early February detailing the surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, saying an infamous, unverified dossier funded by Democrats “formed an essential part” of the application to spy on him.
Democrats released a rebuttal memo on Sunday, downplaying the role of the dossier.
The White House responded to the GOP memo by saying it “raises serious concerns about the integrity of decisions made at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI to use the government’s most intrusive surveillance tools against American citizens.”
Sessions said earlier this month on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that that there would be an investigation into how the FBI used the dossier to secure the surveillance.
“Let me tell you, every FISA warrant based on facts submitted to that court have to be accurate,” he said. “That will be investigated and looked at, and we are not going to participate at the Department of Justice in providing anything less than the proper disclosure to the court before they issue a FISA warrant.”
The involvement of the IG was not clear until Tuesday.
This is hardly the first time Trump has gone after his attorney general, who was among Trump’s earliest supporters during the 2016 president campaign.
An updated edition of the book, “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency,” revealed that former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had to intervene last year to dissuade Sessions from resigning.
This was reportedly after Trump personally excoriated Sessions, calling him an “idiot” and blasting him for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
Sessions ultimately stayed on.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.