09:03 GMT09 May 2021
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    A government watchdog group has filed two lawsuits against the Department of Justice to obtain any records of connections between now-US President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, as well as records relating to any potential wiretapping of his New York tower.

    The new organization, American Oversight, was founded by Austin Evers, a former State Department lawyer, and Melanie Sloan, who founded another watchdog group, the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.

    American Oversight claims to be nonpartisan, despite their founders’ close ties to the Democratic Party.

    "Nearly 100 days into President Trump's term, there are more questions than answers about the president and his associates' contacts with Russia. It’s time for the administration to come clean with the American people," Evers wrote in a release.

    "As congressional inquiries seem to be getting us nowhere, American Oversight is suing the government for information."

    In American Oversight’s first lawsuit, they are seeking warrant applications and court orders regarding any wiretapping of Trump Tower. Their request is that the DOJ produce the records within 20 days.

    In a previous response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the group, the DOJ said that “to confirm or deny the existence of such materials in each case would tend to reveal properly classified information regarding whether particular surveillance techniques have or have not been used by the US Intelligence Community. Accordingly, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records responsive to your request.”

    "It's ludicrous for the Justice Department to claim it can’t confirm or deny the existence of records given that the president has declared they exist and the FBI director has denied it," Evers said in the group’s release. "Well, which is it? The American people have a right to the truth."

    While FBI Director James Comey denies there was wiretapping of Trump Tower, he has confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation into links between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.

    “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts,” Comey said at a congressional hearing in March. “As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”

    A second lawsuit seeks information about White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ attempt to “persuade the bureau to rebut media reports about the investigation into the Trump campaign," as well as information from the vetting form of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


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    Lawsuit, Freedom of Information Act, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, Department of Justice, American Oversight, Austin Evers, Melanie Sloan
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