Freshman Republican Sen. Josh Hawley on Thursday demanded answers from the FBI over a new report that the bureau opened a counterintelligence investigation into President Trump to probe whether he was threat to national security after the ouster of former FBI Director James Comey.
Hawley, R-Mo., wrote a letter Thursday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, calling the reported probe “alarming.” He also requested information about whether that investigation is ongoing.
Hawley, who unseated incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in the midterms, said the revelation “brings to mind some of the darker chapters of the FBI’s history, when unaccountable individuals within the FBI used the agency’s investigatory powers as a weapon against political opponents.”
“I am deeply troubled by these accounts," Hawley wrote. "That FBI agents would seek to bring a counterintelligence investigation against the president as a potential national-security threat for the exercise of his office is more than unprecedented—it is alarming. It undermines the political accountability and structure of the executive branch.”
In his letter, Hawley also asked which officials within the FBI “authorized” the opening of the probe, whether they obtained “pre-approval” with supervisors, whether they were subject to any “disciplinary review or action” and whether they remained employed at the FBI.
Hawley also asked whether the bureau “ever previously initiated a counterintelligence investigation against the president based on the exercise of his constitutional authority.”
The freshman senator’s letter comes after The New York Times reported last weekend that the FBI began investigating whether the president had been working on behalf of the Russian government in the days following Comey’s firing. The inquiry also had a criminal aspect, according to the paper, with the bureau probing whether the president’s firing of Comey was obstruction of justice.
The president tore into Comey and his deputies on the heels of the report, blasting the former FBI director as a “bad cop” and his former bureau allies “known as scoundrels.”
“I guess you could say they are dirty cops. I have never seen a turnaround in a bureau or agency like I have with the FBI –12 people have now been terminated and others are going to go,” Trump said Monday. “When you say I should have confidence in the FBI ---when I see [Bruce] Ohr, and others like Lisa [Page] and her lover [Peter Strzok], and you see what they said about me, let me tell you something, when people see that, you have an angry country.”
He added: “What happened with the FBI…I have done a great service for the country when I fired James Comey. He was a bad cop and a dirty cop and he really lied. He lied.”
Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017. Days later, on May 17, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election. Rosenstein assumed oversight of the probe from the Justice Department after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself due to his involvement with the Trump campaign.