The probe into possible connections between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government is heating up once more. According to The Washington Post, law enforcement's Russia investigation has identified a current White House official as a "significant person of interest" in the inquiry. Sources told the Post that the person in question is a senior White House adviser, and somebody who is close to President Trump. They did not identify the official in question. Trump and the White House have denied any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
The Post also reported that the FBI's investigation has gradually expanded: While it initially examined potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, investigators are now also looking into whether anybody close to the president has committed any financial crimes. That said, possible connections between Trump associates and the Russian government still remain a focus of the probe. Sources told the Post that the FBI is also attempting to determine whether the Trump campaign in any way facilitated the various hacks that targeted the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta during the election.
The New York Times reported on Friday that during a recent meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Trump called former FBI Director James Comey a "nut job," and said that firing Comey earlier in the month eased the "great pressure" Trump had been facing as a result of the FBI's Russia inquiry. According to MSNBC's Kyle Griffin, White House officials said that they don't dispute the Times report on Trump and Lavrov's conversation.
White House officials have told NBC News that they do not dispute the account as reported by the New York Times. https://t.co/znHjxQR1dl— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 19, 2017
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage with negotiate with Russia,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement responding to the Times report. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it.”
The Post reported that while the FBI probe now includes a current White House official, law enforcement is still investigating former Trump associates who don't currently hold White House positions, such as former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager. Flynn, who resigned in February, was on the Turkish government's payroll during the Trump campaign, but didn't register as a foreign agent until March, after he had resigned from the administration. Sources told the Post that a grand jury in Virginia has issued a subpoena for Flynn's business records.