Monday, 15 October, 2018

Democrats accuse Trump of undermining Russia probe

Freda Brock | 12 May, 2017, 09:04

Days before he was sacked by Donald Trump, FBI Director James Comey requested more resources to pursue his investigation into Russia's election meddling and the possible involvement of Trump associates, USA officials say, fueling concerns that Trump was trying to undermine a probe that could threaten his presidency.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had pondered dumping Comey as soon as he took office on January 20, but chose to stick with him.

Trump, for his part, told aides ahead of Comey's dismissal that there was "something wrong with" the then-FBI chief.

Comey announced in March that the FBI was investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential race, including possible ties between Moscow and Trump's campaign.

Asked if Comey had lost the confidence of rank-and-file employees at the bureau, as a White House spokeswoman had asserted a day earlier, McCabe said: "No, sir, that is not accurate".

During an interview with NBC News Thursday, Trump elaborated, alleging that Comey told him once over dinner and two other times on the phone. However, he did say in response to questioning from Senator Ron Wyden that the FBI would not "typically" answer an individual's question as to whether he or she were under investigation.

According to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Trump chose to fire Comey (who was nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2013) following the recommendations of his attorney general and deputy attorney general.

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Comey to Colleagues: 'It Is Done, and I Will Be Fine'
The president added that he asked Comey three times - once in person, twice on the phone - if he was under investigation. First of all, Rosenstein never explicitly calls for Comey to be fired in the letter he submitted to the president.

Trump addressed his decision to can Comey in an exclusive interview with Lester Holt airing tonight on NBC's "Nightly News with Lester Holt".

The president personally defended his summary dismissal of Comey and rejected suggestions it was linked to the Russian Federation investigation.

This afternoon, President Trump dug up a December tweet from the actress and poet, in which she called for FBI Director James Comey to be fired over his "intrusion" into the 2016 election.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer ended up briefing reporters about the move in the dark on Tuesday night near a patch of bushes steps away from the West Wing. The very Democrats that are criticising the President now would be dancing in the streets celebrating, so it's just the purest form of hypocrisy, she said. Trump, still a Republican candidate, reacts by saying: "Today is the best evidence ever that we've seen that our system is absolutely, totally rigged. I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity", McCabe added.

McCabe was talking about the FBI's ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign or Trump associates and Russian operatives. Comey had recently informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had requested additional resources for the Russian Federation investigation from the Justice Department. A letter released to the public says his decision was based on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein.

"I worked very, very closely with Director Comey from the moment he started at the FBI", McCabe said.

He said there was no "crisis of confidence within the leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation".


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