Trump calls report on FBI probe of him ‘most insulting’

The New York Times reported that the FBI launched the previously undisclosed counterintelligence investigation to determine whether Trump posed a national security threat, at the same time that it opened a criminal probe into possible obstruction of justice by the president. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 January 2019

Trump calls report on FBI probe of him ‘most insulting’

  • The New York Times report Friday cited unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation
  • Trump went on to say that no president has taken a harder stance against Russia than he has

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Saturday called “most insulting” a published report that federal law enforcement officials were so concerned about his behavior in the days after he fired James Comey from the FBI that they opened an investigation into whether he had been working for Russia against US interests.
The New York Times report Friday cited unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
Trump reacted Saturday during a telephone interview broadcast on Fox News Channel after host Jeanine Pirro asked whether he is currently or has ever worked for Russia.
“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” he said. “I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written, and if you read the article you’ll see that they found absolutely nothing.”
Trump went on to say that no president has taken a harder stance against Russia than he has.
“If you ask the folks in Russia, I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other ... probably any other president, period, but certainly the last three or four presidents.”
The inquiry forced counterintelligence investigators to evaluate whether Trump was a potential threat to national security. They also sought to determine whether Trump was deliberately working for Russia or had unintentionally been influenced by Moscow.
The Times reported that FBI agents and some top officials became suspicious of Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign but didn’t launch an investigation at that time because they weren’t sure how to approach such a sensitive and important probe, according to the unnamed officials. But Trump’s behavior in the days around Comey’s May 2017 firing as FBI director, specifically two instances in which he seemed to tie Comey’s ousting to the Russia investigation, helped trigger the counterintelligence part of the investigation, according to the newspaper.
Trump tweeted early Saturday that the report showed that the FBI leadership “opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof” after he had fired Comey.
Robert Mueller took over the investigation when he was appointed special counsel soon after Comey’s firing. The overall investigation is looking into Russian election interference and whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Russians, as well as possible obstruction of justice by Trump. The Times says it’s unclear whether Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence angle.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn’t heard anything, apparently “they found nothing.”
Trump has also repeatedly and vociferously denied collusion with the Russians.


Bomb blamed on Taliban kills 11 pro-government Afghan militiamen

Updated 3 min 13 sec ago

Bomb blamed on Taliban kills 11 pro-government Afghan militiamen

  • Group traveling through Badakshan province to assist security forces in the area when attacked

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan: A roadside bomb in northern Afghanistan killed 11 pro-government militiamen when it tore through a truck in a Saturday pre-dawn attack that officials blamed on the Taliban.
The group were traveling through Badakshan province to assist security forces in the area, officials said.
A local commander was among the fatalities, provincial governor’s spokesman Sanaullah Rohani said.
Badakshan provincial council member Abduallah Naji said the Taliban were responsible for the incident but the militants have so far not claimed the attack.
Local militias often work with overstretched security forces in Afghanistan, and have been regularly targeted by the Taliban.
The attack comes as overall violence has ebbed across much of Afghanistan following the Taliban’s surprise three-day cease-fire against Afghan forces last month.
Officials have blamed some deadly attacks on the Taliban since the truce ended on May 26.
The US air force also carried out strikes against the militants in separate provinces this week for the first time since the cease-fire.
Washington signed a landmark deal with the Taliban in February, pledging to withdraw all troops from the country in return for security guarantees.
It could see the United States pull out its forces by mid-next year, ending a military deployment in Afghanistan that has lasted nearly two decades.
The Taliban have largely refrained from launching major attacks on cities since the deal, but have continued to target Afghan forces in the countryside.
The Pentagon has said it would continue to conduct defensive strikes in response to Taliban attacks.