Journalist says it's clear that Trump has 'politicized' the Justice Department

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Risen on Tuesday said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE has politicized the Justice Department (DOJ), referring to a DOJ investigation into whether the Trump campaign was spied on in 2016. 

"It's clear that the Justice Department has been highly politicized by Trump," Risen, national security correspondent at the Intercept, told Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti and Krystal Ball. 

"They are responding at every point to whatever Trump tweets or whatever Trump ... tells them over lunch someplace," he continued.

"I just think it's ridiculous that you now have Trump able to direct investigations," he said. "There's supposed to be some kind of independence at the Justice Department. Clearly, there is no independence anymore." 

The Justice Department's inspector general is in the process of reviewing whether the FBI followed the proper protocol in applying for a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Republicans have said the FBI improperly relied on details from the dossier compiled by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele when applying for the warrant.

The surveillance activity was part of the early investigation into Russia's election interference that led to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerHouse impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' MORE's probe into the topic. 

Mueller ultimately did not find establish that there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Risen argued in a recent piece for The Intercept that Trump put pressure on the Justice Department during the Mueller probe, and now has a "willing lackey in Attorney General William Barr." 

— Julia Manchester