The Hill: Pelosi calls for DOJ probe of Priebus on FBI, Russia
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says the Department of Justice must probe reports that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to push back on media coverage linking figures from President Trump’s campaign to Russian intelligence.
Reports emerged Thursday the FBI rejected a White House request to dismiss news stories about staffers from Trump’s campaign repeatedly contacting Russian intelligence agents.
“The Trump White House has been caught trying to pressure the FBI into undermining a vital national security investigation into explosive ties between senior Trump officials and Russian intelligence agents, an action which is in violation of Department of Justice rules and may be illegal,” Pelosi said in a statement Friday.
“White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has committed an outrageous breach of the FBI’s independence,” Pelosi added. “Priebus has not only damaged his reputation but tainted the impartiality of the FBI.”
“The Department of Justice’s Inspector General must open a new investigation into any and all conversations Priebus and other White House officials held with the FBI on ongoing investigations. The American people deserve to know the truth.”
CNN reported Thursday on “multiple U.S. officials briefed on the matter” confirming that the FBI declined to publicly corroborate Priebus’s request for the agency to push back on the reports.
Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that a New York Times story about alleged links between Trump’s 2016 bid and Russian intelligence “was total baloney.”
The Times reported last week that Trump campaign aides and associates were repeatedly in touch with Russian intelligence figures last year. CNN corroborated the story in a separate report.
The report of White House communications with the FBI during its pending investigation into Russia’s influence on the 2016 presidential election may raise questions about ethical violations. White House officials aren’t supposed to talk with the FBI about pending investigations, to prevent the administration from politicizing or interfering in investigations.
Senate Democrats have called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch Trump ally during the 2016 race, to recuse himself from any probe into the Russian connections.