White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded quickly to a Friday New York Times report claiming that President Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey led officials to begin investigating “whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.”
From the report:
Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.
The FBI eventually handed the inquiry over to Robert Mueller after his appointment, and it’s not clear whether or not the same avenue of investigation is being pursued by the special counsel, according to the Times.
In a statement to press, Sanders called Comey a “disgraced partisan hack” and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe a “known liar.” (RELATED: White House Reinforces Counsel’s Office As Subpoenas, Mueller Report Loom)
“James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI,” the statement reads. “Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”
.@PressSec responds to @nytimes report that the FBI opened an inquiry into whether Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia: pic.twitter.com/sAzRn7TIMJ
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) January 12, 2019
The Times also reported that “some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped” in opening an investigation into that angle.
The report acknowledged that “no evidence” has come to light showing that the president had communication or acted upon the instruction of Russian officials. It also quoted Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani reasoning that since “nothing came out of” the report in a year and a half “that showed a breach of national security,” the investigation “found nothing.”