According to a report from CNN, the Trump White House requested that the FBI assist with publicly denouncing and burying the administration’s communication with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. The White House, attempting to recruit the bureau for some good PR, pressured FBI director James Comey and other agencies to claim that the reports of Russian communication were false.
This kind of direct communication between the White House and the FBI is a violation of a decade-old procedure that limits the contact with the FBI on pending investigations. According to a Justice Department memo that was released in 2007 and 2009,
Initial communications between the [Justice] Department and the White House concerning pending or contemplated criminal investigations or cases will involve only the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General, from the side of the Department, and the Counsel to the President, the Principal Deputy Counsel to the President, the President, or the Vice President from the side of the White House.
Comey refused the White House’s request to help stem the tide of news about the Russian ties because the investigation into the Trump campaign’s association with Russia were still ongoing. When the proof of Russian interference was initially published by the New York Times, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus dismissed the reports as “complete garbage.”
“The New York Times put out an article with no direct sources that said that the Trump campaign had constant contacts with Russian spies, basically, you know, some treasonous type of accusations. We have now all kinds of people looking into this. I can assure you and I have been approved to say this — that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it’s grossly overstated and it was wrong. And there’s nothing to it,” Preibus said on “Fox News Sunday” last weekend.
Despite these claims from Preibus, congressional investigation into the involvement of Russian interference in the election is still occurring. Whether or not these findings will be made public remains to be seen, but the White House continues to appear quite rattled at every new piece of information. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was initially briefed by Comey on February 17, and multiple senators involved have suggested that new information regarding Russia’s involvement has come to light during each meeting.