Robert Mueller has been accused of unlawfully obtaining thousands of emails as part of his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
A lawyer for the group set up to help Donald Trump’s transition to the White House said the General Services Administration (GSA) had improperly provided the transition records to Mr Mueller’s investigators.
The email messages are said to have covered everything from potential appointments to policy planning. Some reportedly came from Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, who is now a White House advisor.
Kory Langhofer, general counsel for Trump for America, sent a letter to two congressional committees arguing the disclosure was ‘unauthorised’ and it considers the documents private and privileged and not government property.
But a spokesperson for Mr Mueller said the ‘appropriate criminal process’ had been followed.
Mr Mueller is investigating allegations of collusion between Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.
Mr Langhofer said a GSA official appointed by Mr Trump in May had assured the transition in June that any request for records from Mr Mueller’s office would be referred to the transition’s lawyers.
According to Mr Langhofer, the assurance was made by then-GSA general counsel Richard Beckler, who was in hospital in August and has since died.
But GSA official Lenny Loewentritt said there was nothing improper about the disclosure of the emails to Mr Mueller’s team.
Mr Loewentritt said Mr Beckler did not make a commitment to the transition team that requests from law enforcement for materials would be routed through transition lawyers.
And the transition team was informed that by using government devices, the agency would not hold back records from law enforcement.
Transition officials signed agreements that warn them that materials kept on the government servers are subject to monitoring and auditing and there is no expectation of privacy, he added.
The documents were provided to Mr Mueller’s team by the GSA in September in response to requests from the FBI.
The emails pertain to 13 senior transition officials and many include national security discussions about possible Trump international aims.
Among the officials who used transition email accounts was former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to a count of making false statements to FBI agents in January and is now co-operating with Mr Mueller’s investigation.
Mr Flynn was fired by Mr Trump in February for misleading senior administration officials about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the US.
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