In a fresh series of tweets on Saturday, US President Donald Trump lashed out at former presidential rival Hillary Clinton, special counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI director James Comey, and at The New York Times following a report published Friday alleging that after the president fired Comey in May 2017, law enforcement officials became so alarmed by his behavior that they began probing whether he had been working for Russia against US interests.
Trump posted six tweets on Saturday saying the reported investigation was launched by “corrupt former leaders of the FBI” and “for no reason [and] with no proof.”
The president alleged that “everybody wanted [Comey] fired, Republican and Democrat alike,” after “the rigged & botched Crooked Hillary investigation.” Calling Comey a “crooked cop” and a “total sleaze,” Trump went on to say that the former FBI director was now “being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller” and his team of investigators who he argued had no interest in investigating “the Real Collusion… by Crooked Hillary Clinton, her Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee.”
Comey appeared to respond to the attack by the president on Saturday, tweeting a famous quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
In his series of tweets Saturday, Trump claimed he has been “FAR tougher on Russia than” previous presidents, and reiterated that “getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
In its report Friday citing unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation, The New York Times said officials considered both the possibility that the president was knowingly assisting Moscow and that he had unknowingly come under its influence.
Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
The sources noted that Trump’s own admission that he fired Comey over his refusal to end the investigation into his campaign’s possible ties to Russia was one of the motivations for the probe into the president’s personal ties to Moscow.
They were also motivated by his reported statements during a May White House meeting with visiting Russian officials that he had fired Comey because “he was crazy, a real nut job.”
Mueller took over the personal investigation of Trump when he was appointed soon after Comey’s firing. The Times said it was unclear whether Mueller was still pursuing it.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times that 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.”
Mueller is believed to be investigating whether Comey’s firing and other actions amount to obstruction of justice by the president.
Comey recently attacked the president for telling “lies” and undermining the FBI’s reputation and the rule of law.
Comey spoke after a spurt of anti-FBI tweets from the president in December alleged that the investigative body abused its powers in probing his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Cohen and Flynn have both been convicted for various crimes as part of the Russia probe and have both offered evidence potentially damaging to their former boss.
“The FBI’s reputation has taken a big hit because the president of the United States, with his acolytes, has lied about it constantly. In the face of those lies, a whole lot of good people… believe that nonsense,” Comey told reporters in the halls of the US Senate on December 17.
“People who know better, including Republican members of this body, have to have the courage to stand up and speak the truth.”
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called the Times’ report “absurd” and said Comey was fired for being “a disgraced partisan hack.” She also disputed that Trump had ever been soft on Russia.
“Unlike president Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia,” Sanders said.