House Dems Ask DOJ Watchdog To Probe If WH Is Intimidating Whistleblowers

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter Friday to the Justice Department inspector general asking that agency watchdog to look into whether the Trump administration is intimidating whistleblowers in the federal government.

In the letter, the Democrats note that the intelligence community believes Russian officials tried to interfere in the 2016 election and that “it has become increasingly clear that members of the Trump campaign were in direct contact with agents of the Russian intelligence agencies.”

Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser following reports that he discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration. His resignation was followed by additional news reports that Trump associates had been in contact with Russian officials before the election.

The Democrats further noted that President Donald Trump has been critical of U.S. intelligence agencies, and that recently he has focused on leaks to the press about his aides’ alleged communication with Russian officials.

“Although oversight of the intelligence agencies is certainly an important prerogative for all three branches of government, President Trump seems to have other motives. He told the White House press pool: ‘We’re going to find the leakers. They’re going to pay a big price,'” the members wrote in the letter.

The members asked the DOJ inspector general to determine “whether the Trump administration has engaged in any improper effort to intimidate or threaten whistleblowers under your jurisdiction, or others who are seeking to expose misconduct by Trump Administration officials.”

They also asked the agency watchdog to look into whether U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should be recused from any investigations surrounding Trump associates’ contact with Russian officials, given “his involvement in the Trump campaign and his personal relationship with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.”

All of the Democratic members on the House Judiciary Committee signed the letter.

Read the letter: