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 these Russia allegations.
On September 1, 2017, the Department of Justice and the FBI officially confirmed that President 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 FOIA lawsuit seeking any records related to the alleged wiretapping.
The controversy began when President Trump tweeted on March 4, 2017 that former President Obama had placed wiretaps on Mr. Trump and entities or associates in Trump Tower for improper purposes during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
When asked about the basis for Mr. 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.”
American Oversight sued the Federal Bureau of Investigation 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.
Separately, American Oversight is seeking 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 the campaign, but apart from Sessions’s initial statement to the press, we don’t know exactly what this recusal includes because the formal document has never been released to the public.
On May 9, 2017, President 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 President Trump explicitly stating that he made the decision to fire Comey because the FBI was continuing to investigate connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
According to news reports, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had contacted the FBI in February to ask the agency “to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign.” Such contact would be in violation of longstanding principles preventing political interference with law enforcement proceedings – and American Oversight has sued the DOJ and FBI to release any records of Priebus’s communications regarding this issue.
On March 28, 2017, it was reported that DOJ officials had attempted to prevent former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying at a House hearing on the grounds that all of her testimony would have been covered by the presidential communications privilege and/or the deliberative process privilege. As questions continue to arise about the ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the American people deserve to know whether administration officials sought to impede the Congressional investigation.
American Oversight is seeking records related to the decision to fire Comey – including whether Attorney General Sessions violated his recusal by taking part in the decision.