WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives committee will look right into a newspaper report that the FBI investigated whether or not President Donald Trump has been engaged on behalf of Russia, towards U.S. pursuits, the panel’s Democratic chairman mentioned on Saturday.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) waits for U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to testify to the House Judiciary Committee listening to on oversight of the Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
The New York Times reported that the probe started within the days after Trump fired James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in May 2017 and mentioned the company’s counterintelligence investigators needed to take into account whether or not Trump’s actions constituted a potential risk to nationwide safety.
The White House late on Friday rejected the Times article as “absurd,” whereas Trump on Saturday lashed out at Comey and the FBI in half a dozen tweets.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler mentioned his panel “will take steps to better understand both the president’s actions and the FBI’s response to that behavior” in coming weeks. He additionally mentioned lawmakers would search to guard investigators from the president’s “increasingly unhinged attacks.”
“There is no reason to doubt the seriousness or professionalism of the FBI, as the president did in reaction to this story,” Nadler, a New York Democrat, mentioned in an announcement.
“We have learned from this reporting that, even in the earliest days of the Trump administration, the president’s behavior was so erratic and so concerning that the FBI felt compelled to do the unprecedented – open a counterintelligence investigation into a sitting president,” Nadler mentioned.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff mentioned he couldn’t touch upon the specifics of the report, however mentioned his committee would press forward with its probe of Trump’s contacts with Russia.
“Counterintelligence concerns about those associated with the Trump campaign, including the president himself, have been at the heart of our investigation since the beginning,” mentioned Schiff, a California Democrat.
Schiff mentioned conferences, contacts and communications between Trump associates and Russians, in addition to “the web of lies about those interactions, and the president’s own statements and actions,” have heightened the necessity to observe the proof the place it leads.
Trump took notes of a 2017 assembly with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg from his personal interpreter and took different steps to hide particulars of their conversations, a report within the Washington Post mentioned on Saturday.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders mentioned the report, which cited unnamed present and former U.S. officers, was “so outrageously inaccurate it doesn’t even warrant a response.”
The New York Times mentioned FBI officers turned suspicious of Trump’s ties to Russia through the 2016 presidential marketing campaign, however held off on opening an investigation till Trump tied his dismissal of Comey to a probe into allegations of election meddling by Russia. The FBI additionally thought of whether or not the Republican president’s firing of Comey amounted to obstruction of justice.
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the investigation into Trump days after the FBI opened it, as he examined allegations of Russian election interference, the Times reported. Russia denies it sought to affect the election.
Trump responded on Saturday by lashing out on the Times and former FBI leaders, and criticized the company’s earlier probe of Democrat Hillary Clinton, his rival within the 2016 election.
“Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!,” Trump tweeted.
Comey took to Twitter in a while Saturday, providing a quote he attributed to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
Reporting by David Morgan and Timothy Gardner; modifying by Jonathan Oatis and G Crosse