WASHINGTON ― Top congressional lawmakers and a White House attorney met with Justice Department officials on Thursday to discuss classified information about an FBI informant involved in the investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
The plans for the briefings - even those that were announced publicly - changed repeatedly in the hours leading up to them, the apparent result of a behind-the-scenes, partisan tug-of-war about who should be briefed, where, and alongside whom.
"I hereby demand.that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!" the president tweeted Sunday. And Trump took up the cause as the White House tries to combat the threat posed by Mueller's investigation.
The use of the confidential source has been at the fore of Trump and conservative lawmakers' long-running feud with the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump's campaign coordinated with Russian Federation during the campaign. Mueller took over the investigation when he was appointed in May 2017.
US President Donald Trump took fresh aim on Thursday (Friday NZ Time) at former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, writing on Twitter that the man he fired past year was "a awful and corrupt leader who inflicted great pain" on his agency.
Trump and his supporters have cast the apparent informant as a mole possibly sent by the Obama administration to burrow into his campaign. After Democrats complained about being excluded, Ryan and Schiff were invited.
It remains unclear what, if any, spying was done.
Schiff also said that his presence "only underscores what Rudy Giuliani said: the President's legal team expects to use information gleaned improperly from the Justice Department or the President's allies in Congress to their legal advantage".
U.S. President Donald Trump is on a unsafe path in his open battle with the U.S. Justice Department, which experts bill as a bad sign for the future of U.S. democracy. Former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman was on MSNBC Wednesday morning to explain the difference between a spy and someone who just gives information to the authorities.
In response to the tweet, the Justice Department immediately asked its inspector general to expand its ongoing investigation to look into whether there was any politically motivated surveillance of the campaign and agreed to hold the classified briefings.
"I did a great service to this country by firing James Comey", Trump said.
The back and forth between Congress and the Justice Department over the Nunes request - one of many over the course of the Russian Federation investigation - has been simmering for weeks.
In a statement, the White House said that Flood and Kelly went to the Department of Justice and Capitol Hill "to facilitate meetings between Members of Congress, DOJ, FBI, and DNI".
The FBI at the time was investigating whether anyone in Trump's campaign worked with Russian Federation to help tip the election in Trump's favor.