White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to push back against news stories about contacts between US President Donald Trump’s aides and Russians during the presidential campaign, media reports said on Friday.
White House officials dispute that Priebus did anything wrong, and a senior law enforcement officials said FBI officials also did not consider any lines to have been crossed, NBC News reported.
The stories under consideration are from The New York Times and CNN, each claiming that the FBI was examining evidence of contacts between Trump aides and Russians during the campaign.
On Friday, senior administration officials told reporters that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe first raised the stories with Priebus, calling them “garbage”.
McCabe then talked to other officials at the FBI, who said they didn’t want to get into the business of publicly parsing elements of news reports, thus rejecting “knocking down” the story.
Officials have also spoken against the claim that the FBI rejected a White House request to remove the story, as “false, disgusting and erroneous”.