AP FACT CHECK: Trump wrong on Russia collusion question
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a series of blistering tweets Saturday, President Donald Trump falsely asserted that the House Intelligence Committee has concluded there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.
Trump in his tweets lashed out at his perceived foes tied to the Russia investigation and exulted in the firing of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, once a leader of the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices. The FBI’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton infuriated Trump at the time, and still does.
TRUMP: “As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.” — tweet.
THE FACTS: He’s wrong. That conclusion came from Republicans on the committee; it was not a committee finding. Democrats on the committee sharply dispute the Republican conclusions and will issue their own.
Whatever the findings of the committee, special counsel Robert Mueller is leading the key investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Russian contacts with the Trump campaign. The probe has produced a number of charges and convictions, none to date alleging criminal collusion. But Mueller continues to explore whether collusion occurred and whether Trump or others may have obstructed justice.
Trump did not specify what he meant in accusing the agencies of corruption. McCabe was fired in advance of an inspector general’s report that’s expected to conclude he was not forthcoming about matters related to the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails.
TRUMP: “The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!” — tweet.
THE FACTS: Some context is missing here. This is true: McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, ran as a Democrat for the Virginia state Senate in 2015, and the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave her campaign $500,000 during her race. McAuliffe is a longtime associate of Hillary Clinton, branded “Crooked H” by Trump. Jill McCabe lost the race.
Trump’s complaint, as he spelled it out in the past, is that Clinton-linked money went to “the wife of the FBI agent who was in charge of her investigation.” But that timeline is wrong. Andrew McCabe was elevated to deputy FBI director and didn’t become involved in the Clinton email probe until after his wife’s bid for office was over. The FBI said McCabe’s promotion and supervisory position in the email investigation happened three months after the campaign.
The bureau also said in a statement at the time that McCabe sought guidance from agency ethics officers and recused himself from “all FBI investigative matters involving Virginia politics” throughout his wife’s campaign.
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