Senate opens controversial probe of Trump-Russia investigation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top Senate Republican ally of President Donald Trump accused the FBI on Wednesday of conducting a corrupt investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign, during a congressional probe that Democrats view as part of a partisan election-year attack on candidate Joe Biden.

Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a Senate Judiciary Committee he was unaware of problems with warrants allowing the FBI probe code-named “Crossfire Hurricane” to surveil Trump 2016 campaign officials and would not have given his approval if he had known about them.

“Every application that I approved appeared to be justified based on the facts it alleged, and the FBI was supposed to be following protocols to ensure that every fact was verified,” Rosenstein testified at a hearing.

The FBI launched the probe after learning of contacts between campaign officials and Russia involving information about Trump’s then Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Trump and his Republican allies say the president and his campaign were treated unfairly by officials involved, including former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

The Justice Department inspector general found numerous errors, including mistakes in seeking surveillance approval.

The IG report found no political bias, however..

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham called the probe an abuse of power that should not be allowed to recur.

“This investigation, Crossfire Hurricane, was one of the most corrupt, biased, criminal investigations in the history of the FBI,” Graham said.

But the panel’s top Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein, warned that Senate Republicans were trying to help Trump attack both the Russia probe that overshadowed his presidency and Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee who was vice president at the time.

“Congress should not conduct politically motivated investigations designed to attack or help any presidential candidate,” she said.

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