The Republican head of the US Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday he plans to ask the FBI about a report it launched a probe into whether President Donald Trump has been working on Russia’s behalf
The Republican head of the US Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday he plans to ask the FBI about a report that it launched a probe into whether President Donald Trump has been working on Russia’s behalf, suggesting the agency may have gone too far.
“I am going to ask the FBI director was there a counter intelligence investigation opened up regarding the president as being a potential agent of the Russians? I find it astonishing,” Senator Lindsey Graham said on the Fox News Sunday program. “If this really did happen, Congress needs to know about it ,” he said. “How could the FBI do that? What kinds of checks and balances are there?”
Trump has avoided giving a direct answer when asked if he is or has ever worked for Russia. A published report shows federal law enforcement officials were so concerned about Trump’s behaviour after he fired James Comey from the FBI that they began investigating if he had been working for the US adversary against American interests.
Trump said it was the “most insulting” question he had ever been asked. The New York Times report cited unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
Trump responded to the report during an interview broadcast on the Fox News Channel after host Jeanine Pirro, who is also a friend of the president, asked whether he is or has ever worked for Russia. “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written, and if you read the article you’ll see that they found absolutely nothing,” he said.
Trump didn’ t answer Pirro’s question directly, but went on to say that no president has taken a harder stance against Russia than he has. “If you ask the folks in Russia, I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other ... probably any other president, period, but certainly the last three or four presidents.”
The New York Times reported that FBI agents and some top officials became suspicious of Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign but did not open an investigation at that time because they were not sure how to approach such a sensitive and important probe, said the unnamed officials.
However, Trump’ s behaviour in the days around Comey’s May 2017 firing as FBI director, specifically two instances in which he seemed to tie Comey’s ousting to the Russia investigation, helped trigger the counter-intelligence part of the investigation, according to the newspaper.
In the inquiry, counter intelligence investigators sought to evaluate if Trump was a potential threat to national security. They also sought to find out if Trump was deliberately working for Russia or had unintentionally been influenced by Moscow. On Saturday Trump tweeted that the report showed the FBI leadership “opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof” after he had fired Comey.