News & Politics

Trump Administration Wanted FBI to Throw Cold Water on Russia Probe: Report

The White House maintains the bureau acted of its own accord.

Photo Credit: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

President Donald Trump’s White House apparently asked the FBI to squash stories about connections between Trump aides and Russian power brokers.

The request entailed having the FBI dispute media reports about connections between Trump’s political and business associates and Russian counterparts during the 2016 presidential election, according to a CNN report. If true, this could constitute improper executive meddling in law enforcement functions comparable to an incident about which Republicans cried foul during the election — namely, when former president Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch while the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal was still ongoing.

The White House claims that they only acted because they wanted the FBI to dispute supposedly incorrect stories published by CNN and The New York Times earlier this month detailing alleged contacts between members of Team Trump and powerful Russians. They also claim that the FBI took the initiative in saying that the reports were wrong.

At first the White House disputed that their request had been initially made by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe during an unrelated meeting, but they later acknowledged that this report was accurate. Subsequent conversations occurred between Priebus and both McCabe and FBI Director James Comey, with Comey telling Priebus that he wouldn’t denounce the stories because they were still being investigated.

The FBI has not publicly commented.

On Friday morning, Trump tweeted that the problem was, once again, that the CNN was able to report the information in the first place.

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and his work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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