FBI investigated four Americans over Russia links, Comey reveals

'We had some reason to suspect that there were Americans who might have assisted the Russians'

David Morgan,Jason Lange
Sunday 09 December 2018 02:23 GMT
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Former FBI director James Comey speaks during the Canada 2020 Conference
Former FBI director James Comey speaks during the Canada 2020 Conference (AP)

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The FBI launched investigations of four Americans in July 2016 into whether they helped Russia’s alleged efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, former FBI director James Comey said in remarks released on Saturday.

Mr Comey also appeared to suggest the investigations were looking into ties between Russia and US president Donald Trump’s election campaign.

He did not identify the people being investigated but said Mr Trump was not among them.

“We opened investigations on four Americans to see if there was any connection between those four Americans and the Russian interference effort,” Mr Comey said, according to a transcript of the closed-door hearing held on Friday by the US House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee.

Mr Trump fired Mr Comey in May 2017 after taking office in January of that year. Shortly after Mr Comey’s dismissal, the Department of Justice named a special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Mr Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.

Russia has denied any interference. Mr Trump denies there was any collusion and on Saturday renewed his call to end the special counsel’s investigation, calling it a “witch hunt”.

In the hearing on Friday, Republican congressman John Ratcliffe asked Mr Comey whether the FBI had “any evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia when agents briefed Mr Trump as a candidate in 2016 about foreign intelligence threats.

Mr Comey said the probes into the four Americans began in late July but that he was not sure when agents briefed Mr Trump.

“If it was after 29 July, then the answer would be, yes, we had some reason to suspect that there were Americans who might have assisted the Russians,” Mr Comey said, according to the transcript. He said the four Americans “had some connection to Mr Trump”.

The 235-page transcript also covers Mr Comey’s responses to questions about FBI interactions with a former British spy who compiled a dossier of allegations of collusion between Mr Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Most of the hearing on Friday covered lawmaker questions about Republican-led investigations into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was in office. Ms Clinton was the Democratic candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

The Republican-led inquiries have been lambasted by Democrats, who will take over the House of Representatives in January, as a partisan effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.

Reuters

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