‘Ottawa’ Top Judiciary Panel Senators ask DOJ, FBI for Trump Wiretapping Warrant Applications
WASHINGTON — Two leading Senate Judiciary Committee senators are asking the FBI and the Department of Justice to hand over any warrant applications related to possible wiretaps of President Donald Trump and his team, after Trump accused his predecessor of illegally tracking his conversations.
Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., the top Republican and Democrat on the Judiciary Committee’s Crime and Terrorism panel, wrote Wednesday to FBI Director James Comey and Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente asking for “copies of any warrant applications and court orders – redacted as necessary . . . related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower.”
Boente was recently put in charge of such matters at the Justice Department, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from matters pertaining to the Trump campaign.
“We would take any abuse of wiretapping authorities for political purposes very seriously,” Graham and Whitehouse wrote. “We would be equally alarmed to learn that a court found enough evidence of criminal activity or contact with a foreign power to legally authorize a wiretap of President Trump, the Trump Campaign, or Trump Tower.”
Trump’s weekend accusation that the Obama administration had ordered wiretaps of his phones, delivered via Twitter, sent members of Congress into a frenzy this week, as some Republicans quickly responded positively to the president’s demands for a congressional investigation, while Democrats and other Republicans expressed alarm that Trump had made such an accusation with no evidence to support it.
Comey has already asked the Justice Department to refute Trump’s accusation. White House officials have tried to deflect that, calling for a congressional investigation — and refusing to answer questions about what evidence the president’s accusation rests upon until such an investigation commences.
Several members of Congress have said that Trump needs to publicly explain the substance behind those allegations before Congress should dig into it. The heads of the House Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, have agreed to include an examination into potential wiretaps in their ongoing probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections – though they acknowledged that there is no evidence yet that such wiretapping took place.
Graham and Whitehouse have both been critical of the Trump team’s alleged ties to Russia, and have pledged to run an investigation of their own from their perch on the judiciary committee panel.