Mueller probe: Faith in Justice Department weakens

Mueller probe: Faith in Justice Department weakens

Mark Warner tweeted after the briefing.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Emmet Flood, a White House lawyer, made brief remarks to those attending the meetings "to relay the president's desire for as much openness as possible under the law", but departed before the sessions officially started.

Representing U.S. intelligence and law enforcement at the briefing will be Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of Intelligence Dan Coats. If Trump was willing to order the Justice Department, which is supposed to act independently and without political influence, to instead pursue investigations that served him personally and politically, would he be equally willing to demand an end to one he considered a political liability?

Trump now is zeroing in on - and at times embellishing - reports that a longtime us government informant approached members of his 2016 campaign during the presidential election in a possible bid to glean intelligence on Russian efforts to sway the election.

The president intensified his attacks on the probe this week, calling it "spygate" and tweeting Thursday that it was "Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in USA history".

Intelligence officials are horrified that the White House has sanctioned the naming of the supposed informant, an American who teaches history in England, saying this will make it much harder to get information about threats to national security. According to a USA official familiar with the meeting, the briefers did not reveal the name of an informant.

Nunes and Gowdy both declined comment after their briefing.

"I look forward to the prompt completion of the intelligence committee's oversight work in this area now that they are getting the cooperation necessary for them to complete their work while protecting sources and methods", Ryan said in a statement.

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Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who attended both briefings, was blunt about the meetings.

The Special Counsel's Office is hoping to deny an attempt by several media organizations, including CNN, to unseal documents in the Russian Federation probe, by arguing that the documents need to remain private because of the breadth of still-secret parts of the ongoing investigation.

Giuliani's public negotiation over terms of an interview focuses on the use of a government informant who approached members of Trump's 2016 campaign in a possible bid to glean intelligence on Russian efforts to sway his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Then they went to a separate 2 p.m. briefing on Capitol Hill with the bipartisan "Gang of Eight", the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and the Intelligence Committees.

The "why" behind all of this is simple: Trump and his allies in the conservative media are in the midst of an extended campaign to discredit the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the broader Justice Department.

In a statement after the first meeting, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the intelligence committee had "the responsibility to ask tough questions of the executive branch" and said the Justice Department was cooperating, though he offered no substantive details.

If the FBI was using Halper as an informant at the time, it raises the possibility that the investigation was politically motivated.

It remained unclear what, if any, spying was done. After Trump's tweet, the department announced that its inspector general would expand an ongoing internal review to determine "whether there was any impropriety or political motivation" in the FBI's counterintelligence operation connected to the 2016 campaign. The informant, a retired USA academic living in England, seems to have morphed in the imagination of some Trump supporters into a spy planted inside the campaign by his enemies in the Obama White House - an idea Trump floated again on Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday that the meeting "should be called off", and called Nunes a "known partisan whose only intent is to undermine the Mueller investigation".

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