Donald Trump suggests FBI may have infiltrated his presidential campaign
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and repeatedly called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt.” Russia has denied meddling in the US presidential election.Updated: May 19, 2018 23:32 IST
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump has alleged, without proof, the FBI had “implanted” an informant in his campaign, joining a chorus of conservative voices in a concerted attempt to discredit the Russia probe that has dogged his presidency.
The president made the allegations in tweets on Friday without citing sources or evidence. “There was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president. It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a ‘hot’ Fake News story. If true - all time biggest political scandal!,” he wrote.
Conservative lawmakers and commentators have demanded the FBI and the department of justice for documents about the operation.
The FBI had indeed used an informant — a retired American professor who has been described as a known figure in Washington DC and had worked in Republican administration — but to follow up evidence about contacts between members of Trump team and Russians, but not to spy on the campaign, US media outlets reported citing unidentified officials.
The informant had contacted members of Trump’s campaign in 2016 and the number of officials contacted variesin the media reports. His identity has not been disclosed at the request of US intelligence as to not endanger his life or compromise other investigations he worked on.
He had made contacts with Trump campaign foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadapoulos who were known to have been targeted by Russians. Page had been on the FBI’s radar since 2013 and Papadapoulos, the first person indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, has been cooperating in a guilty plea deal.
The academic had also contacted one other member of the Trump campaign, Sam Clovis, who has through his attorney told The Washington Post that they met only once, at the informant’s request, and their discussion centered around China.
The New York Times has reported that the informant also had contacts with Michael Flynn, in 2014, when he was heading the Defence Intelligence Agency.
Flynn went on to become Trump’s first National Security Adviser, before being fired for lying about his Russia contacts. He has since pleaded guilty and is cooperating with Mueller’s probe.
First Published: May 19, 2018 09:15 IST