by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
On Sunday, President Trump tweeted a “demand” that the Justice Department investigate political spying in the 2016 campaign. This replays the political-spying controversy that surfaced in late February. Right now, the issue involves the Obama administration’s use of at least one confidential informant — a spy — to snoop into the opposition party’s presidential campaign; back in February, the issue was the Obama administration’s electronic surveillance — by FISA eavesdropping warrants — for the same purpose.
Just as he did last time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded to the president’s agitation by referring the political-spying issue to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. This was the right thing — or, at least, a right thing — to do. …
… I am sympathetic to Sessions’s obvious desire to restore norms that the FBI and Justice Department resist speaking publicly about ongoing investigations. But here, he needs to be public and vigorous about his determination to get to the bottom of what happened. The Justice Department has stonewalled congressional requests for information in connection with the Russia investigation (from which Sessions recused himself). Sessions needs to assert himself, making clear that the Department will scrutinize credible allegations of political spying and will cooperate with congressional committees. With his top subordinate, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, likening congressional oversight to “extortion,” the boss needs to do more.
President Trump is right to order that action be taken.