Comey looked to expand probe before Trump fired him: source
FBI Director James Comey sought to expand his agency’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election before President Donald Trump fired him on Tuesday, a congressional source has said.
Facing criticism from members of Congress, the Trump administration denied the firing was related to the FBI probe of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign’s possible collusion with Moscow to sway the election.
The Republican president, who met Russia’s foreign minister at the White House on Wednesday, defended his decision to abruptly fire Comey from a law-enforcement post he had held since 2013.
“Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me,” Trump said in a series of posts on Twitter on Wednesday morning.
Trump’s firing of Comey stunned Washington and plunged the president deeper into controversy. Democrats intensified accusations that Comey’s removal was intended to undermine the FBI probe and demanded an independent investigation. Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans called the action troubling.
A congressional source with knowledge of the matter said Comey told lawmakers within the past few days that he had asked the Justice Department for more funding for the Russia probe. Comey informed lawmakers of that request after the Senate intelligence committee had asked the FBI to speed up its Russia inquiry, the source said.
Dianne Feinstein, the leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters she understood that Comey was seeking more resources for the FBI investigation.
“We know that there are subpoenas being requested in the Eastern District of Virginia, and that this investigation has been going on,” Feinstein said.
She said she met with Comey on March 15 along with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. At the time Comey said it was “a big counter-intelligence and criminal investigation,” Feinstein said.
Responding to media reports that Comey had asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week for a significant boost in resources for the agency’s probe, Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior said in an email, “Totally false.”