Donald Trump escalated an increasingly cutthroat fight with the justice department on Friday, with a series of tweets accusing federal agents of infiltrating his 2016 presidential campaign “for political purposes” and to “frame” him for crimes he “didn’t commit”.
The president was echoed on television by the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer, who said Trump’s accusations “may turn out to be closer to the truth than people thought”.
“For a long time we’ve been told that there was some kind of infiltration,” Giuliani told CNN. “I don’t know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one.”
If the accusations seemed strangely backwards-looking, given Trump’s election victory, they dovetailed with an ongoing campaign by congressional Republicans to impugn the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and telegraphed the president’s increasing determination to turn the page on the investigation into Russian election interference and alleged links between Trump aides and Moscow.
Former justice department officials warned that that determination was increasingly reckless. “When you’re out of cover ups to hide your guilt, you attack the legitimacy of the investigation,” tweeted former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance.