No Ties Between Trump and Russia, New York Times Reports
The FBI has found no direct links between Donald Trump and the Russian government, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The report came shortly after Mother Jones cited an anonymous “former spy,” who claimed that “there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.”
Unnamed senior FBI officials quoted in the Times indicated otherwise.
What Do Comey, Russia and Harry Reid Have to Do With Each Other?
Over the weekend, Democrats hurled criticism toward FBI Director James Comey for announcing Friday the discovery of more emails related to the federal investigation of Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Amid the firestorm of condemnation came one particularly harsh letter from Sen. Harry Reid, who accused Comey of a “double standard” for going public with information related to the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails, but not the FBI investigation of Trump’s possible connections to Russia.
Earlier this month, Comey did not sign the statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security and The Office of the Director of National Intelligence claiming Russia guided the Wikileaks hacks, because he said it was too close to the election.
A former FBI official suggested that Comey chose to break that protocol and announce the discovery of the new emails since he had already testified publicly about the matter in July, unlike the ongoing Russia investigation.
In Reid’s letter to Comey Saturday, he demanded more information:
In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government. … The public has a right to know this information.
What Was the Trump-Russia Investigation All About?
The officials cited in the Times noted that Trump himself has not been the subject of any FBI investigation.
Some of Trump’s acquaintances have been investigated, the Times reported. One was Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. The investigation centered on his personal business ties, and “not necessarily on any Russian influence over Mr. Trump’s campaign,” the Times reported.
Others targeted by the FBI investigations have been Carter Page, an early campaign adviser, and Roger Stone, “Republican strategist and Trump confidant.” The Times reported that Page called the allegations against him a “witch hunt,” and Stone denied the implied Russia connection in a Breitbart op-ed earlier this month.
Federal investigations of people close to the Republican presidential nominee began earlier this year, with Democrats accusing Trump and his campaign of cahoots with Russia to tip Election Day results.
It didn’t help that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly praised each other. The blame intensified as Wikileaks, evidently linked to Russian hackers, continued to release batches of emails stolen from Democrats.
But a senior official at the FBI told the Times they don’t believe the Russians are attempting to get Trump elected through the Wikileaks hacks.
“It isn’t about the election,” he said, “It’s about a threat to democracy.”