Attorney general William Barr has appointed a US attorney to investigate how the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election began, and whether laws were broken during while intelligence was being collected on the Trump campaign.
The assignment was first reported on Monday night, and comes after the attorney general told senators last month that “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016 — even though he said at the time that he was not sure that anything illegal had occurred.
The appointment addresses a recurring theme for Donald Trump’s supporters, who have claimed that the Obama Justice Department and FBI had unlawfully spied on the president’s campaign.
Democrats meanwhile have claimed that the accusations from Republicans are meant as a diversion from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which found that Russia did attempt to help Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Mr Mueller, in his report, also said that there was no criminal conspiracy between Mr Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin, but said that the president could not be exonerated in questions about Mr Trump’s potential obstruction over the Russia probe.
Mr Trump, on Tuesday, said that he did not ask Mr Barr to start the probe, but that he thinks “it’s a great thing that he did it.”
“I saw it last night. And, they want to look at how that whole hoax got started. It was a hoax,” Mr Trump told reporters outside the White House. “And even Mueller — not a friend of mine — even Bob Mueller came out: ‘No collusion.’”