It’s all coming out now… and former FBI Director James Comey is on the defense.
This, after it was alleged that an informant pretended to be a research assistant to try and investigate a Trump foreign policy adviser in 2016.
Comey went to bat for the FBI during a lengthy interview with a Los Angeles radio station. In that interview, Charles Feldman brought up the New York Times report and asked Comey about Trump supporters’ reaction to it.
“Already some Trump supporters are saying, ‘Aha! You see? We are right! The president is right!” Feldman said. “The FBI and the … so-called deep state, they were spying on an American presidential campaign — and this story is proof of that.’”
Comey hesitated, then the FBI’s actions.
“Really? What would you have the FBI do? We discover in the middle of June of 2016 that the Russians were engaged in a massive effort to mess with this democracy to interfere in the election. We’re focused on that and at the end of July we learn that a Trump campaign adviser — two months earlier, before any of this was public — had talked to a Russian representative about the fact that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton and wanted to arrange to share it with the Trump campaign,” Comey said.
He claims they did the right thing.
The Times report shows that an informant working for U.S. intelligence pretended to a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016.
The purpose was to try to probe George Papadopoulos, who at that time was a Trump foreign policy adviser, on the campaign’s possible ties to Russia.
Papadopoulos went on Fox News on Thursday and said the informant “tried to seduce him” as part of what he described as a “bizarre” episode.
The Times report cited people familiar with the Justice Department’s ongoing Inspector General review of the intelligence community’s actions leading up to the election of President Donald Trump.
Demoocrats attacked Attorney General William Barr suggesting that “spying did occur” during the presidential race. He doubled down on that during a Senate hearing on Wednesday.
Comey said the FBI was just doing its job.
“What should the FBI do when it gets that information? It should investigate to figure out whether any Americans are hooked up with this massive interference effort. And that’s what we did.” Comey said.
Then Comey went on the offense. The fired and disgraced director suggested that Republicans who were angry about the report should “breathe into a paper bag,” saying the FBI used “limited tools” to find the truth.
“There’s no way you would do other than what we did, which is use limited tools to try to understand, ‘Is this true?’ And that’s what the investigation was about,” Comey said.
Comey tried to argue that Republicans would be outraged if the FBI didn’t react if a similar situation had emerged involving former President Barack Obama and Iran during the 2012 election.
Except… that didn’t happen.
The former FBI head then made sure to cast doubt into the 2020 election, the Russians would again work to re-elect President Trump. He called their initial actions were “an act of war” and criticized the president for “refusing to accept that.”
“A foreign adversary intervened in America to damage our democracy to hurt one of our two candidates for president and to help the other. That’s an act of war. And they not only did it, they exceeded their wildest expectations because look at where we are as a country now, how we are at each other’s throats. So, they will be back again, they will work to re-elect Donald Trump,” Comey said.
In the meantime, a bombshell report was released on Thursday fueling Republican allegations that Democrats were actually the ones colluding with foreign agents during the 2016 election.
According to the report, Ukraine’s embassy wrote that a Democratic National Committee (DNC) insider reached out in 2016 seeking dirt on President Trump’s team.
Ambassador Valeriy Chaly said the connection was DNC contractor Alexandra Chalupa. The ambassador said Chalupa pushed for Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko to mention Paul Manafort’s ties to Ukraine publicly during a visit to the U.S.
On top of that, he said Chalupa sought detailed financial information on his dealings in the country. During the time, Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman.
“The Embassy got to know Ms. Chalupa because of her engagement with Ukrainian and other diasporas in Washington D.C., and not in her DNC capacity. We’ve learned about her DNC involvement later,” Chaly said in a statement released by the Ukrainian embassy.
“We were surprised to see Alexandra’s interest in Mr. Paul Manafort’s case. It was her own cause. The Embassy representatives unambiguously refused to get involved in any way, as we were convinced that this is a strictly U.S. domestic matter.”
That’s not all, according to Chaly.
“All ideas floated by Alexandra were related to approaching a Member of Congress with a purpose to initiate hearings on Paul Manafort or letting an investigative journalist ask President Poroshenko a question about Mr. Manafort during his public talk in Washington, D.C.”
Fox News reached out to both the DNC and Chalupa, who works as a Washington, D.C.-based political consultant. Neither responded.
In 2017, Chalupa told CNN:
“During the 2016 US election, I was a part time consultant for the DNC running an ethnic engagement program. I was not an opposition researcher for the DNC, and the DNC never asked me to go to the Ukrainian Embassy to collect information.”
But here’s the thing. Chalupa acknowledged that she met with “representatives of the Ukrainian Embassy,” – yet she said it was all about an “Immigrant Heritage Month women’s networking event.”
She also told CNN that when Manafort was named Trump’s campaign chairman, she let the DNC know that Manafort had worked with the Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian’s president at the time.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Chalupa’s firm did in fact provide services to the DNC in 2016.
And the DNC paid Chalupa more than $412,000 from 2004 to 2016.
Last week, President Trump took part in an interview with Fox News’ “Hannity”. In that interview, he Attorney General Bill Barr was handling the “incredible” and “big” new revelations that Ukrainian actors apparently leaked damaging information about Manafort to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Could that have anything to do with why Democrats this week were calling for Barr’s resignation?
Ukraine Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko opened a probe last month. It’s looking into the so-called “black ledger” files that led to Manafort’s abrupt departure from the Trump campaign.
The probe launched after an audio recording was leaked which showed that a senior Ukrainian anticorruption official apparently admitted to leaking Manafort’s financial information in 2016 — including his ties to pro-Russian actors in Ukraine — to benefit Clinton.
Turns out the Ukrainians are being pretty forthcoming. Earlier this month, they said they had a slew of evidence of collusion and wrongdoing by Democrats and were trying to share the information with U.S. officials in the Justice Department.
There was a recent ruling by a Ukrainian court. It said the Manafort document leak amounted to interference in the U.S. election by parliamentarian Serhiy Leshchenko and Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU).
President Trump said he believes Americans needed to see the results of Ukraine’s ongoing investigation into whether officials in that country worked with the Clinton team.
“I would imagine [Barr] would want to see this. … I would certainly defer to the attorney general, and we’ll see what he says about it,” Trump said. “He calls ‘em straight.”
“It sounds like big stuff, very interesting with Ukraine. I just spoke with the new president a while ago, and congratulated him. … But that sounds like big, big stuff, and I’m not surprised.”
Previously, Rudy Giuliani made similar comments:
“Keep your eye on Ukraine.”
In 2017, there was an investigation by Politico that found Ukrainian officials not only publicly sought to undermine Trump by questioning his fitness for office, but also worked behind the scenes to secure a Clinton victory.
That report found the Ukrainian government worked with Chalupa to conduct opposition research against Trump. That going after Manafort for Russian ties, helping lead to his resignation.
When it was released, Chalupa took to Facebook to call the story “nonsense”.