After a bombshell New York Times report revealed President Donald Trump’s top aides and associates were in constant contact with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential election campaign and that intelligence agencies knew about it, the White House reportedly tried to save face by asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to shoot down the story.
Multiple United States officials told CNN that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was the one to appeal FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to publicly criticize the Feb. 14 story and declare there was no communication between the two sides.
FBI Director James Comey, whose biased attitude toward the Trump administration has raised some concerns during the election, rejected the request since the agency is currently investigating the claims. It's a move that may have prompted Trump to take his frustration to Twitter, saying that the FBI is incompetent and demanding the agency do more to find the source of recent leaks.
The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security "leakers" that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
As far as Comey is concerned, it was a clever move on his part to reject the White House's request, particularly because the White House violated a decades-old communication procedure that limits the contact with FBI over pending investigations.
2007 and 2009 procedure memos from the Justice Department state the department will advise the White House of criminal or civil-enforcement matters “only where it is important for the performance of the president’s duties and where appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.”
“This limitation recognizes the president’s ability to perform his constitutional obligation to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed’ while ensuring that there is public confidence that the laws of the United States are administered and enforced in an impartial manner,” read the memos.
“We didn't try to knock the story down”
“We didn't try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
The “truth,” in this case, means the administration’s version, of course.
Does Spicer really think people are gullible enough to believe that?
The White House has repeatedly denounced the reports of its ties with Russia — be it the CIA analysis of Russian involvement in the election or the BuzzFeed dossier detailing the blackmail-worthy material Russian operatives allegedly had against the U.S. commander-in-chief.
Moreover, the request to bury one of the biggest scandals in Washington was not only unethical, it was also extremely hypocritical.
As some social media users pointed out, last year, the Republicans threw a hissy fit after former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton briefly met on a tarmac just before the House Benghazi Committee was set to release its press report on an investigation into the emails sent by the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
“It was really a sneak,” Trump said at the time. “You see a thing like this and, even in terms of judgment, how bad of (sic) judgment is it for him or for her to do this? Who would do this?"
Trump implied Bill Clinton had asked Lynch to not prosecute his wife.
Meanwhile, the FBI has declined to comment on the current matter.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst