A lawsuit has been filed against the Justice Department by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a leftist anti-Trump government watchdog group. The lawsuit revolves around documents related to the Department of Justice’s decision to show reporters private text messages which were critical of President Donald J. Trump, and were exchanged between two FBI agents connected to a special investigation into the president.
CREW filed their lawsuit on Wednesday, saying the DOJ failed to respond to an expedited request for documents related to their “highly unusual, if not unprecedented” decision to allow reporters to view the text messages.
According to The Hill:
On Dec. 12, the Justice Department reportedly invited journalists to its offices to review messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that the department had separately released to members of Congress the same day. The messages were discovered as part of an ongoing inspector general probe into the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Until recently, both agents were part of the special counsel investigation into Russian interference.
Strzok was removed from the investigation after the messages were discovered. However, the tone and highly critical remarks about Trump they include left many to wonder about the political impartiality of the members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Other connections have been made to people who serve on the team, as some have either supported the Democratic party or twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
While the release of the text messages has renewed skepticism about the political affiliations within the Mueller investigation, some Democrats have demanded an explanation for the “unusual move” of reportedly allowing reporters to view them and of sending the messages to Congress.
“Given this highly unusual, if not unprecedented, action to secretly leak the contents of documents currently under review by your office, the public has a clear and pressing interest in learning whether the leak was properly authorized and the extent to which the interests of the texts’ authors were appropriately considered and protected,” the complaint said.
On Dec. 13, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended the DOJ’s decision to release the private messages to members of Congress. During House Judiciary Committee hearing, he said, “The determination was made that it is so we gave notice to their attorneys, we notified the committee and our goal, congressman, is to make sure that it’s clear to you and the American people we are not concealing anything that’s embarrassing to the FBI.”
The DOJ inspector general also did not object to the release of the text messages to Congress.