Trump attacks his own 'deep state' Justice Department

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

President Trump began his first full day of 2018 by attacking the Department of Justice while relaying a new report about the handling of sensitive emails by Hillary Clinton’s top aide, who served on a campaign he vanquished more than a year ago.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others.”

Though Trump criticized the Justice Department for supposedly being part of the “deep state,” top officials in the department were selected by him, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

On Monday, the Daily Caller reported that Abedin forwarded “sensitive” State Department emails to her personal Yahoo email account while Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, based on an email disclosure brought forth by a lawsuit from the conservative group Judicial Watch.

The Daily Caller — and apparently Trump — connected the forwarded emails to the high-profile hacks that affected Yahoo email accounts in 2013 and 2014. The 2014 breach involved 500 million user accounts that U.S. officials later determined were stolen by four “state-sponsored” hackers, including two officers of the Russian Federal Security Service. It’s unclear whether Abedin’s account was one of the 500 million accessed by hackers in 2014. But the 2013 breach affected all Yahoo user accounts, or approximately 3 billion, although it’s unclear who was behind the 2013 hack.

Trump appeared to suggest that Abedin should be prosecuted for her reported mishandling of emails, comparing it to the case of a former Navy sailor who was sentenced to a year in prison in 2016 for taking photos inside a U.S. submarine. The sailor, Kristian Saucier, sought a pardon from Trump, who, as a candidate, used the incident to complain that Clinton was not charged with a crime for her use of a private email server.

The commander in chief’s tweet also appeared to urge the Justice Department to “act” against former FBI Director James Comey. In July 2016, Comey decided to recommend no criminal charges against Clinton or her aides despite his conclusion that the former secretary of state was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information.

James Comey, Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Donald Trump. (Yahoo News photo illustration; photos: Drew Angerer/Getty Images, Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Carolyn Kaster/AP, AP)

At the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked if the president believes in the existence of a deep state or shadow government plotting to sabotage him.

“The president finds some of those actions very disturbing,” Sanders replied. “And he wants to make sure that if there is an issue, that it is looked at.”

Sanders was also asked if Trump believes the entire Justice Department and its more than 100,000 employees are a part of this deep state.

“Obviously, he doesn’t believe the entire Justice Department is part of that,” Sanders said.

Trump’s broadside against his own Justice Department comes amid the ongoing federal investigation into his campaign’s contacts with Russia. In an interview with a New York Times reporter last week, Trump said repeatedly that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin, and expressed hope that special counselor Robert Mueller’s probe would treat him fairly.

Last month, former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials — and is cooperating with Mueller’s probe. A Trump campaign aide with a foreign policy portfolio, George Papadopoulos, also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is similarly cooperating. Paul Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager, and one of Manafort’s deputies have also been charged with various crimes, including money laundering, as a result of Mueller’s probe.

The president’s lawyers have assured him that the investigation will be wrapped up early this year, but as Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff reported last month, sources familiar with the probe say that such a rapid conclusion is “fanciful.”

Those sources told Isikoff that Mueller and his team are “pursuing new leads, interrogating new witnesses and collecting a mountain of new evidence” — including subpoenaed bank records and thousands of emails from the campaign and the Trump transition.

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