Absurd! White House dismisses report that FBI opened probe into whether Trump was working for Russia
The White House has condemned a media report in the United States (US) that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) opened a counter-intelligence probe into whether President Donald Trump was secretly working for Russia.
According to the report by the New York Times newspaper, law enforcement officials became concerned by Trump's behaviour in May 2017 when he sacked then FBI director James Comey.
The investigation reportedly examined whether Trump was a national security threat.
However, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Saunders dismissed the report as “absurd.”
“James Comey was fired because he's a disgraced partisan hack and his deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI, " Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
"Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia," she added.
In 2016, US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had launched cyber-attacks and planted fake news stories on social media in a bid to boost Trump and damage his rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton.
The New York Times reports that the counter-intelligence probe was rolled into the investigation being conducted by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The counterintelligence part, the newspaper said, sought to establish whether Trump was knowingly aiding the Kremlin against America's interests or "had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence".
The criminal aspect was reportedly related to Comey’s dismissal and whether it was an obstruction of justice.
The ex-FBI director told a congressional hearing that Trump told him "I expect loyalty" and pressured him to end an enquiry into the president's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
The paper says the FBI investigation was taken over in full by Mueller’s office.
However, the report says it was unclear if the counterintelligence part of the FBI probe was still being pursued.