Russian Federation probe turns to possible cover-up as investigation reaches White House
While White House staffers solidified the details of Trump’s first foreign trip, sensitive information apparently poured out of the administration like a sieve to major U.S. news outlets regarding the president’s handling of the former FBI director and the ongoing law enforcement investigation into his campaign.
“The investigation would have always continued, and, obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it”, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday.
Trump last week fired Comey from his role as Federal Bureau of Investigation director.
The revelation shows the law enforcement investigation is reaching “the highest levels of government”, while also scrutinizing former confidantes no longer advising Trump, such as former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Separately, the New York Times reported on Friday that Trump told Russian officials at a White House meeting last week that firing Comey relieved “great pressure” that the president was facing from the ongoing probe into Russia and the election.
While speaking with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Trump reportedly said, “I faced great pressure because of Russia”.
The probe marks a third line of inquiry regarding Russian influence, adding to a more general investigation into Russian meddling in the investigation, and a more specific investigation into Trump campaign ties to the country. “He was insane, a real nut job”, Trump told the Russian foreign minister and USA ambassador on May 10 during an Oval Office meeting, according to a transcript of the meeting read to The Times by a US official. “By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia”, Spicer said. Trump later said he had already chose to fire Comey regardless of Rosenstein’s memo, which the deputy attorney general confirmed to Congress this week.
A current White House official has been identified as a person of interest by law enforcement investigating possible collusion between Russian Federation and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, NBC News confirmed, citing two US officials. Trump also called Comey a “showboat” and a “grandstander”.
Congress members said the third line of investigation was added recently, after memos surfaced claiming Mr Trump had tried to convince his former FBI director to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
After days of turmoil in Washington, the Justice Department announced the appointment on Thursday of a special counsel to look into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.