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Watchdog group sues FBI and DOJ over Trump's wiretap claims, Russia investigation

President Trump touts his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order at Snap-on headquarters in Kenosha, Wis. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker
President Trump touts his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order at Snap-on headquarters in Kenosha, Wis. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker

American Oversight, a newly formed ethics watchdog group, has gone to court over President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration and an ongoing FBI investigation into whether the Trump campaign cooperated with Russian intelligence agencies.

After their Freedom of Information Act request for documentation was rejected by the Justice Department and the FBI, the group is suing both agencies.

The first lawsuit, filed Wednesday, demands proof to back Trump’s explosive charge, initially made on Twitter on March 4, that his predecessor had wiretapped Trump Tower last year.

So far, no evidence has emerged to support that claim, and numerous senior intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as former President Barack Obama, have denied it. A president has no authority to order a wiretap.

The second lawsuit is seeking documents related to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign actively assisted or coordinated with Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 presidential race.

That probe began last July and remains open, according to the FBI. Several former members of Trump’s team, including his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, have come under scrutiny. All have denied any impropriety.

The group is specifically asking for the release of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ foreign contacts and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus’ communications with the FBI about the investigation.

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Sessions recused himself from any role in the FBI investigation last month after news reports revealed that he had failed to tell his Senate confirmation hearing that he had met several times with the Russian ambassador to Washington last year when Sessions was still in the Senate but was advising Trump.

“Nearly 100 days into President Trump’s term, there are more questions than answers about the president and his associates’ contacts with Russia,” Austin Evers, director of American Oversight, said in a statement.

Although American Oversight calls itself nonpartisan, it was specifically launched this year with a mission to hold the Trump administration accountable.

At least two of the lawyers connected to the group worked for the Obama administration.

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