Russian Interference & Trump Administration Actions

We know that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election to support the Trump campaign, and we know that law enforcement and security agencies of the U.S. government have opened investigations into that interference. A special counsel was appointed to investigate, but it is time for the administration to start telling the truth.

Background

American Oversight launched an investigation to get straight answers to some of the most pressing, non-classified questions about how the Trump administration has conducted itself in the face of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions about Russian interference.

Trump Tower Wiretapping Allegations

On Sept. 1, 2017, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation officially confirmed that President Donald Trump had lied when he tweeted that former President Obama had “wiretapped” him at Trump Tower. The admission came in a DOJ filing in response to American Oversight’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking any records related to the alleged wiretapping.

The controversy began when Trump tweeted on March 4, 2017, that former President Barack Obama had placed wiretaps on Trump and entities or associates in Trump Tower for improper purposes during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign.

When asked about the basis for Trump’s assertions, the White House stated, “He’s the president of the United States. He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not.”

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s Russian Contacts & Recusal

American Oversight sued the FBI to obtain the page of Sessions’s security clearance application on which he was required to list any foreign government contacts. The form showed that Sessions failed to disclose his contacts with the Russian government — and that he signed the form attesting that he understood the penalty for making false statements.

American Oversight represented People For the American Way in its lawsuit to find out if the FBI really advised Sessions to omit his Russian contacts from his security clearance application, submitted in preparation for his role as attorney general, as the DOJ claimed. The suit was voluntarily dismissed following the FBI’s production of a single email indicating that an FBI employee did not recall providing Sessions advice on excluding any foreign contact from his application. 

Separately, American Oversight sought documents related to Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from matters related to the 2016 campaign. On March 2, 2017, the Washington Post reported that Sessions would recuse himself from investigations related to the campaign, but apart from Sessions’s initial statement to the press, we don’t know exactly what this recusal includes, as the formal document has never been released to the public. Sessions left his position as attorney general in November 2018.

Firing of FBI Director James Comey

On May 9, 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, ostensibly over Comey’s actions during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump administration officials gave multiple, conflicting explanations for the firing — culminating with Trump explicitly stating that he made the decision to fire Comey because of the FBI’s continuing investigation of connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Political Interference at the FBI

According to news reports, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had contacted the FBI in February 2017 to ask the agency to knock down reports about communications between Trump’s associates and Russians during the 2016 campaign. Such a request would be in violation of longstanding principles preventing political interference with law enforcement proceedings — and American Oversight sued the DOJ and FBI to release any records of Priebus’s communications regarding this issue.

Updates

The Nunes Memo Declassified the Carter Page FISA Applications – So We’re Suing to Release Them

March 7, 2018
American Oversight and Dominique Bravo went to court today to compel the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release the secret warrant applications that they filed to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign staffer Carter Page.  The warrant applications established probable cause that an individual associated with the Trump campaign was engaged in a crime or was a foreign agent.

FBI Records Call Into Question Sessions’ Claims About Security Clearance Instructions

December 7, 2017
Email released by the FBI in response to a FOIA lawsuit brought by People for the American Way seeking any advice that the FBI may have given to Attorney General Sessions regarding how to complete his SF-86 security clearance application. In the email, the FBI agent who assisted with Sessions’ clearance states that they do not recall advising Sessions to omit his Russian contacts from the form.

More Evidence Flynn Concealed Payments

November 22, 2017
The Department of Defense has confirmed in writing that it has no record that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn sought permission before accepting payments from foreign government sources, including Russia. 
Show all updates

Related Documents

November 20, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Regarding Efforts to Investigate Theories Related to Ukraine’s Involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking External Communications With Personal Attorneys of President Trump

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
June 21, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with Maria Butina, Paul Erickson, and Alexander Torshin

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
June 21, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications With Congress and the White House Regarding Investigations into the President

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
June 20, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking the Legal Analysis Attorney General Barr Has Relied on in Disagreeing with the Mueller Report

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 16, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Russia-U.S. Reconciliation Plan Provided by Individuals with Ties to Russia and Putin

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 14, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Between State and Kirill Dimitriev or Rick Gerson

Department of State
FOIA Request
March 15, 2019

No Records Response from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia Regarding Trump Tower Wiretapping

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
August 2, 2018

DOJ Communications Regarding Allegations of Trump Tower Wiretapping

Department of Justice
Agency Record
May 4, 2018

FBI Notice About Comey Memos

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Reply
March 7, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ – Carter Page FISA Applications

Department of Justice
Litigation
March 6, 2018

No Records From DOJ Regarding Yates Testimony

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
February 21, 2018

DOJ IG Letter to Congress Regarding Strzok Page Texts

Department of Justice
Agency Record
January 31, 2018

FOIA Regarding Sessions’ Recusal

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
January 29, 2018

No Records Response Regarding Then FBI Director Comey

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
December 19, 2017

FOIA to DOJ/OLC Regarding Decision to Release Text Messages to Reporters

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
December 14, 2017

DOD Final Response Regarding Michael Flynn

Department of Defense
Agency Reply
October 27, 2017

Status Conference in PFAW v. DOJ

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Litigation
September 28, 2017

FBI Records of Communications with Media Regarding Russia Investigation in Early 2017

Department of Justice
Agency Record
September 12, 2017

Complaint: People For the American Way v. FBI and DOJ

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Litigation
September 12, 2017

Withheld Records From DOJ Regarding Sessions’ SF-86

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
September 11, 2017

Withheld Records from DOJ Regarding Jeff Sessions’ Security Clearance

Agency Reply
September 1, 2017

DOJ Motion for Summary Judgment – Wiretapping Lawsuit

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Litigation
August 11, 2017

DOJ Internal Communications Regarding AG Session’s Recusal

Department of Justice
Agency Record
August 11, 2017

FBI Records of Preibus Communications about Russia Investigation

Department of Justice
Agency Record
August 8, 2017

Order: Extension of Deadline

Department of Justice
Litigation
August 1, 2017

Attorney General Sessions’s SF-86 Signature Page

Department of Justice
Agency Record
July 28, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Records about Possibility of Removing Mueller

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
July 28, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Russian Interference and Appointment of Special Counsel

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
July 28, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Sessions Recusal

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
July 13, 2017

Redacted Page of Attorney General Sessions’s SF-86

Department of Justice
Agency Record
July 12, 2017

Notice of Production – Sessions SF-86 Lawsuit

Department of Justice
Litigation
July 6, 2017

Order: Vaughn Index

Department of Justice
Litigation
July 6, 2017

Court Order in American Oversight’s Wiretap Lawsuit

Department of Justice
Litigation
June 20, 2017

DOJ FBI Response Neither Confirms Nor Denies Comey Briefing Book

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
June 16, 2017

DOJ Records Exempt Response to Request for Comey Memos

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
May 22, 2017

No Records Response Regarding Sessions’ Recusal Terms

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
May 16, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Communications Regarding Firing of Comey

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 16, 2017

FOIA Request to FBI Seeking Comey Memos Memorializing Trump Conversations

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 16, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Communications Between Rosenstein and Comey regarding conversations with Trump

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 12, 2017

FOIA Request to FBI Meetings Between Comey and White House

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 11, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Communications from Rosenstein about firing Comey

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 11, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Sessions and Rosenstein Records April 30 through May 11 2017

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 10, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Communications About Decision to Fire Comey

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 10, 2017

FOIA Request to FBI Communications with DOJ and Media Regarding Comey Firing

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 10, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Sessions Involvement in Comey Firing Terms of His Recusal

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
April 21, 2017

DOJ Acknowledgement of FOIA Request

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
April 19, 2017

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ and FBI – Wiretapping

Department of Justice
Litigation
April 19, 2017

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ and FBI – Sessions and Priebus

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Litigation
April 12, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Communications with Congress Regarding Sessions Contact with Russian Officials

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
April 12, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Communications with DC U.S. Attorney’s Office Regarding Sessions Contact with Russian Officials

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
April 12, 2017

FOIA Request to FBI Seeking Communications with Congress Regarding Sessions Contact with Russian Officials

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 31, 2017

FOIA Request to DOD Seeking Communications between Michael Flynn and Russian Govt or Russia Today Officials

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Jeff Sessions’ Communications Regarding Sally Yates Testimony

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Legal Analysis Provided to the White House about Sally Yates Testimony

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Communications with White House about Potential Sally Yates Testimony

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 29, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Communications with Congress about Potential Testimony of Sally Yates to Congress

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 24, 2017

No Records Response Regarding Communications Between Sessions and Russian Ambassador

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
March 20, 2017

FOIA Request to FBI Seeking Background Investigation Materials for Sessions Russian Contacts

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 20, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Communications Regarding Allegations of Trump Tower Wiretapping

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 20, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Warrants or Court Orders Regarding Interceptions of Communications at Trump Tower

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 14, 2017

No Records Response From DOJ Regarding Communications Between Sessions and Kislyak

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
March 13, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Regarding Sessions’ Formal Recusal Document for 2016 Presidential Campaign

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 9, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Communications between Reince Priebus and the FBI Regarding Investigation into Trump Campaign

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 8, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Correspondence with News Media Regarding Any Communications Between Sessions and Russian Ambassador

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 8, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Communications Between Sessions and Russian Ambassador

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
March 8, 2017

FOIA Request to DOJ Seeking Records Relating to Any Communications Between Sessions and Russian Ambassador

Department of Justice
FOIA Request