Trump ‘demands’ probe of alleged spying on his campaign

In this March 15, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump talks with reporters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Trump is getting wise to his staff. He's on to their stall tactics and attempts to steer him to their favored options. Fourteen months into his administration, his aides had thought they'd cracked the code: guide Trump to the right decision by making the conventional choice the only realistic option. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has demanded that the Justice Department investigate whether his presidential campaign was “infiltrated” or spied on for political purposes, prompting it to announce it would look into those issues.

Trump described the infiltration allegations as being potentially “bigger than Watergate”, but Democrats say he is attempting to undermine the year-old investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with his campaign, headed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, 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!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

Trump’s angry order came amid building pressure from the year-old Russia meddling investigation, and as US media reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigations sent a Britain-based American professor to speak separately with Trump campaign advisers in 2016.

A New York Times report described the professor as “an informant”, saying the federal agency was looking into evidence that Carter Page and George Papadopoulos had suspicious contacts with Russia.

The Washington Post called him “a longtime US intelligence source” and said he met with a third campaign adviser — am Clovis — as well as Page and Papadopoulos.

Trump and his supporters have cast the man as a mole possibly sent by the Obama administration to burrow into his campaign.

The Justice Department tasked its internal watchdog with looking into the issues raised by Trump.

But it paired that inquiry with an existing “review” of the application process for FISA national security warrants, which Republicans allege was abused in connection with the surveillance of Page.