President Donald Trump on Friday called the special counsel investigation against him “illegal” and “conflicted” in response to reports about how the probe got started.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has been leading the investigation since May 2017. Trump says there is now new evidence that the long-running inquiry was started on illegitimate grounds.
On Thursday, the transcript of former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s closed-door hearing was released — and Trump said the transcript proved his campaign was under investigation by Obama-era officials as early as 2015.
He said the testimony showed officials knew there were no crimes committed when the special counsel investigation was later launched — and that it was based on an opposition research dossier instead.
“So, if there was knowingly & acknowledged to be ‘zero’ crime when the special counsel was appointed, and if the appointment was made based on the fake dossier (paid for by Crooked Hillary) and now disgraced Andrew McCabe (he & all stated no crime), then the special counsel should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller report,” Trump said in a tweet.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, released the transcript, which came from a closed-door hearing held in June 2018.
Strzok did not confirm any wrongdoing by agency officials in his testimony.
“This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime,” Trump said. “Russian cxollusion was nothing more than an excuse by the Democrats for losing an election that they thought they were going to win. THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!”
“New evidence that the Obama era team of the FBI, DOJ & CIA were working together to Spy on (and take out) President Trump, all the way back in 2015.” A transcript of Peter Strzok’s testimony is devastating. Hopefully the Mueller Report will be covering this. @OANN @foxandfriends
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
Mueller and his team are looking into possible crimes committed by the president or his associates, with a particular focus on whether or not they colluded with Russian interests during the presidential election of 2016.
Trump and his campaign drew the interest of federal investigators long before the special counsel probe. Former campaign aide Carter Page was under surveillance during the election season as part of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant. The warrant was based partially on the opposition research indirectly paid for by the Democratic National Committee.
Justice Department official Bruce Ohr provided the FBI with the opposition research dossier. Nellie Ohr, his wife, worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm hired to create the dossier. Christopher Steele, a former British spy with deep connections to Russian intelligence, was tasked with compiling it.
Ohr was demoted from his post as associate deputy attorney general once his alleged involvement was revealed. He later appeared before a closed-door hearing as part of the congressional investigation in August 2018. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said at the time that his testimony confirmed many of his fears of bias and FISA process abuse.
Ohr also gave testimony that reportedly conflicted with what congressional investigators heard earlier from Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told reporters outside the closed hearing at the time there were a number of factual conflicts — so one of them had to be lying.
And check out this video: