FBI singled out 4 Americans at start of Russia probe: Comey

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

House Republicans have argued that Comey was biased against Trump because the FBI cleared Clinton, the former secretary of state who was Trump's rival in the 2016 election, in a probe into her use of a private email server, but pressed ahead with its investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in the election.

Rep. Matt Gaetz blasted James Comey for having "selective amnesia" during his closed-door testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. It was the first time he answered lawmakers' questions since an explosive June 2017 hearing in which he asserted that Trump fired him to interfere with his FBI investigation of alleged Russian Federation ties to the Trump campaign.

When asked what types of questions the fired FBI director was evading, Issa said: "In broad-brush strokes, everything related to Hillary's investigation, everything related to how they got on to it and what their process was, everything related to the FISA warrants and the fake dossier - broadly those are the areas in which, time and time and time again, he's not answering". "And those four Americans did not include the candidate".

Comey told Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation suspected the four individuals may have helped Russian Federation interfere in the election.

"I don't know the dates. So it's hard for me to see how he was on Team Clinton secretly at that point in time", Comey said, referring to the October 28, 2016, letter which stated that the FBI had "learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation" into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state. "And so, if it was after July 29th, then the answer would be, yes, we had some reason to suspect that there were Americans who might have assisted the Russians". Prosecutors recommended Friday that Cohen, who previously pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, should be sentenced to about four years in prison.

Just as the meeting ended, President Trump tweeted that "it is being reported that Leakin' James Comey was told by Department of Justice attorneys not to answer the most important questions".

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Clinton and many Democrats have blamed the letter for her election loss to Trump.

He did not identify the people being investigated but said they "had some connection to Mr Trump". Strzok, who was involved in the special counsel investigation, was removed after anti-Trump texts between Strzok and Page came to light. Trump has seized on the messages as evidence of a conspiracy to dismantle his presidency. "It will snap back, as will the rest of our institutions", Comey said. Democrats and Comey rebuked that claim, instead saying there were only a handful of questions that he could not answer because of ongoing criminal investigations.

"Did we have evidence in July of (2016) that anyone in the Trump campaign conspired to hack the DNC server?"

"I'm not sure we needed to do this at all", Comey said after exiting his interview with the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. "And I worry that that would cross that line".

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a review of the email investigation on June 14.

Comey (shown above left) has been a main person of interest since the beginning, for his involvement in a key investigation and his public comments. "I would bet my life that Bob Mueller will do things the right way, the way we would all want, whether we're Republicans or Democrats, the way Americans should want".

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