WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump on Monday again lashed out at the Justice Department and FBI, hitting the two agencies for “slow walking” documents Congress has requested.
“So sad that the Department of ‘Justice’ and the FBI are slow walking, or even not giving, the unredacted documents requested by Congress,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning. “An embarrassment to our country!”
The White House did not return a request for comment to clarify what documents Trump is concerned are being withheld.
Trump’s latest complaint about the Justice Department comes amid rampant speculation about his relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The former Alabama senator told lawmakers in a letter last week that he would not appoint a second special counsel to probe the surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, despite Republican calls for him to do so.
Trump in February publicly called on Sessions to use Justice Department lawyers to investigate the claims, which have drawn the attention of Republican lawmakers.
But Sessions wrote in a letter to the Republican heads of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees as well as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that a second special counsel is unnecessary, noting a Utah United States attorney is in charge of investigating their allegations.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee, has in the past expressed frustration about the Justice Department’s compliance with Congressional requests, but at the same time has publicly warned Trump not to fire Sessions.
At FBI Director Chris Wray’s confirmation hearing last July, Grassley said the agency has “resisted accountability to Congress and asked Wray to improve the department’s compliance with Congressional requests.
Wray announced last week that he was doubling the number of FBI staff dedicated to reviewing Congressional requests, dividing them into two daily shifts running from 8 a.m. to midnight.
Tom Dillard, who served as a federal prosecutor in Tennessee and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, said in an interview he is “dismayed” by Trump’s latest comments, which he said could have impacts on morale inside the Justice Department and the FBI and the public perception of their work.
He noted the effects could extend to areas that might not initially seem obvious, such as in criminal trials involving testimony from FBI agents. Dillard said if he were preparing for a trial as a criminal defense lawyer and expected an agent to take the stand, he would be sure to probe whether potential jurors had seen Trump’s latest tweet.
Dillard suggested some could give less weight to an FBI agent’s testimony with the president publicly questioning the agency’s work.
“If I had a trial with an FBI agent, as much as I’d hate to do it, it’s fair,” Dillard said.