White House blasts report saying FBI probed whether Trump worked for Russia
The bureau struck a counterintelligence investigation into the matter after Trump fired director James Comey, the Times reported, citing ex-law enforcement officials and others who were familiar with the probe.
Coverage of Donald Trump and Russia on Globalnews.ca:
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a strongly worded response to the report on Friday night — though the statement didn’t exactly deny the report itself.
“This is absurd,” she wrote. “James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI.”
She went on to say that Trump has “actually been tough on Russia,” unlike former president Barack Obama.
The Times reported that FBI investigators looked into whether Trump’s actions could be considered a threat to national security.
It also examined whether Comey’s firing amounts to obstruction of justice.
Trump fired Comey in May 2017, four months after he took the oath of office and just under two months after Comey testified to Congress that the FBI was probing whether Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.
On May 11, 2017, Trump told NBC, “when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
That interview was one of two instances that helped to prompt the FBI’s investigation.
Just under a year later, Trump tweeted that Comey wasn’t fired over the Russia investigation.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller subsequently took over the investigation into Russian interference.
An anonymous source told CNN that Trump’s comments raised enough concern that they started investigating him.
The Times reported Friday that the probe looking into whether Trump was working for Russia was later folded into Mueller’s investigation.
The newspaper said it’s not clear whether Mueller is still looking into that matter.
WATCH: Nov. 25, 2018 — Former Trump aide sentenced during Russia probe heads to jail as concerns mount over investigation
Mueller is believed to be preparing his final report on the Russia investigation, though there’s no timeline on when it will be released.
It’s not clear whether the report will ever be released publicly.
U.S. senators earlier this week introduced a bipartisan bill that would protect Mueller’s job.
The bill’s Republican sponsors don’t believe that Trump will try to fire the special counsel.
- With files from The Associated Press
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