Sen. Johnson: 'Up To' Trump Who He Reads in On Putin Conversations

Frederick Owens
January 14, 2019

Afterward, Mr. Trump and Putin held a press conference in which the president said Putin had told him he had not meddled in the 2016 election. There have already been concerns by special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump's firing of Comey constituted an act of obstruction of justice.

The first, published by the New York Times on Friday, revealed the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into the president the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russian Federation sought to install through what USA intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference.

Trump tweeted early Saturday that the report showed that the FBI leadership "opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof" after he had fired Comey. The justification went beyond Trump's firing of Comey, according to the sources, and included the President's conversation with Comey in the Oval Office asking him to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

A separate source said Baker told investigators the internal FBI debate over the president's decision to fire Comey on May 9, 2017, included personnel who have since left the bureau for cause, retired, or have been demoted.

Schumer said given Deripaska's potential involvement with Manafort, and since special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump's ties with Russian Federation has not yet concluded, "It's all the more reason these sanctions must remain in place".

Whatever the facts, Democrats are eyeing a major dust-up and a chance to spend floor time blasting President Trump over allegations of election conspiracy with the Russians, along with the opportunity to make GOP lawmakers take a vote either defending or implicitly condemning the president.

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The Post reported that Trump has gone to "extraordinary lengths" to hide direct conversations he has had with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I would. I don't care", Trump said when asked if he would divulge details from the meetings. The report cited unnamed current and former US officials.

The Russia reports came as Trump plays up his presence at the White House during the standoff with Democrats over funding for his long-promised wall at the U.S. -Mexico border.

In the Fox News interview, Trump questioned why the newspaper made such a "big deal" out of his discussions with Putin in Helsinki last summer. "That meeting is up for grabs". The Times reported Mueller also took over the counterintelligence investigation, but the paper said it is unclear whether that aspect of his investigation is ongoing. The FBI would not investigate a president simply for harboring friendly views of a rival state.

They discussed a range of options, including Rosenstein wearing a wire while speaking with Trump, which Rosenstein later denied.

FBI agents and senior officials began to suspect connections between Trump and Russian Federation during the 2016 campaign but pushed off an investigation partially because they were unsure how to execute such a massive and sensitive operation, sources told the Times.

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