Key Republican to ask FBI about report of Trump counterintelligence probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Republican head of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee stated on Sunday he plans to ask the FBI about a report it launched a probe into whether or not President Donald Trump has been engaged on Russia’s behalf, suggesting the company could have gone too far.

FILE PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) waits for U.S. President Donald Trump to enter the room to communicate about the “First Step Act” within the Roosevelt Room on the White House in Washington, U.S. November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

“I am going to ask the FBI director – was there a counterintelligence investigation opened up regarding the president as being a potential agent of the Russians? I find it astonishing,” Senator Lindsey Graham stated on the “Fox News Sunday” program.

“If this really did happen, Congress needs to know about it,” he added. “How could the FBI do that? What kinds of checks and balances are there?”

The New York Times reported on Friday that the FBI opened the counterintelligence investigation in 2017 after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey out of concern the president’s actions could have offered a menace to nationwide safety.

Comey on the time was main an investigation into Russia’s alleged interference within the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. intelligence companies have stated Moscow tried to tip the election to Trump. Russia has denied interfering, and Trump has stated repeatedly there was no collusion between his marketing campaign and Moscow.

The Times reported the counterintelligence probe was sparked partly by rising alarm about Trump’s habits, together with feedback he made suggesting he fired Comey over the Russia investigation, which is now being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Trump rejected the Times story on Saturday, telling Fox News it was “the most insulting article I’ve ever had written.”

The FBI didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who beforehand served as Trump’s CIA director, blasted the Times story, when requested about it on the CBS “Face the Nation” present.

“The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous.”

Democratic lawmakers on Sunday stated the report underscored the necessity for laws to shield the Mueller probe.

“I do think it’s curious that throughout that whole summer when these investigations started, you had (Russian President) Vladimir Putin’s policies almost being parroted by Donald Trump,” Senator Mark Warner, the highest Democrat on the intelligence committee, stated on the CNN “State of the Union” program.

Democrats additionally expressed concern about a report within the Washington Post on Saturday on alleged efforts by Trump to conceal particulars about his conversations with Putin. The paper reported that Trump took notes from his interpreter and instructed the individual not to focus on the small print of his dialog with others.

Reuters couldn’t independently confirm particulars of the Post report.

“When he takes the interpreter’s notes and wants to destroy them so no one can see what was said … it raises serious questions about the relationship between this president and Putin,” the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, stated on ABC’s “This Week.”

In his look on Fox News on Saturday, Trump denied that he was conserving something underneath wraps on his conferences with Putin.

Senator Chris Coons, a Democratic member of the judiciary committee, stated he plans to press Trump’s nominee for legal professional normal, William Barr, for a pledge to let Mueller full his work.

Barr is scheduled to testify earlier than the committee on Tuesday and Wednesday. If he’s confirmed as legal professional normal, he would oversee the Russia probe.

“I would need a firm commitment that he will not allow any interference in the Mueller investigation,” Coons stated on “Fox News Sunday.” He additionally stated Barr should permit Mueller to launch a duplicate of his ultimate report to the general public.

Barr, who served as legal professional normal underneath President George H.W. Bush, despatched an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department in June elevating issues about Mueller’s investigation, and arguing that it was inappropriate for Mueller to look into whether or not Trump could have sought to undermine the probe.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Jeffrey Benkoe

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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