FBI chief ‘sought to reveal Russian election meddling in mid-2016’
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FBI chief ‘sought to reveal Russian election meddling in mid-2016’

Sources tell Newsweek that Comey's plan to write op-ed on Moscow's interference was blocked by Obama administration officials

FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 27, 2016. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 27, 2016. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

FBI director James Comey reportedly sought to reveal Russia’s attempts to influence the outcome of the US presidential elections in the summer of 2016 but was blocked by the White House.

According to a report in Newsweek on Thursday, as early as June or July Comey expressed interest in writing an opinion piece in a major news outlet — possibly the New York Times — stating that Russia was trying to influence the outcome of the election.

“He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward, what do people think of this?’” a source told Newsweek.

However the source said administration officials rejected the idea, saying an op-ed from one person would not be as effective as a joint statement from multiple security chiefs. Such a statement never came through.

This combination of pictures shows Russian President  Vladimir Putin, left, delivering a speech at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 8, 2016; and President-elect Donald Trump, right, at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (AFP)
This combination of pictures shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, delivering a speech at the Kremlin in Moscow on December 8, 2016; and President-elect Donald Trump, right, at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (AFP)

Months later, after the elections, a declassified government report stated that Moscow had been behind concerted efforts to sway the election in favor of Donald Trump.

According to Newsweek, the piece by Comey would likely have included much of the information released in the joint statement from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) on January 6.

That report stated: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

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