On Monday, in response to FBI Director James Comey, the White House said that there is "no evidence" President Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. The scandal has persisted for months, and, given the Trump administration's complicated web of connections to various Russian officials, it will likely continue to persist for a while.
James Comey, director of the FBI, confirmed on Monday that an investigation looking into possible Russian interference in the presidential election, as well as into whether there was any complicity between Trump's camp and Russia, is currently being conducted and has been since July. The announcement was one of two damaging blows delivered to the president on Monday, the second blow being Comey's assertion that the FBI possessed "no information" giving credibility to Trump's claims of being wiretapped by former President Obama in October.
The FBI director's decision to reveal current investigations is not a typical one. As an explanation for making such a move, Comey said, "In unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest it may be appropriate to do so.”
In response to Comey's confirmation of an investigation, a White House official insisted in an email that the Russia scandal is baseless. “Nothing has changed,” wrote the official. “Senior Obama intelligence officials have gone on record to confirm there is NO EVIDENCE of Trump-Russia collusion and there is NO EVIDENCE of a Trump-Russia scandal.”
#BREAKING White House says 'no evidence' of Trump collusion with Russia— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 20, 2017
In early March, the New York Times reported that more than a half-dozen White House officials part of the Obama administration scurried to preserve evidence of Russian interference during the election. The aims of these efforts were to make investigations easier for intelligence agencies and to prevent such interference from happening in future elections. According to the report several foreign American allies from Britain, Holland, and other countries, presented information regarding meetings between close associates of Vladimir Putin and associates of President Trump. Intelligence agencies had additionally obtained evidence of multiple Trump associates communicating with Russian officials, including the Kremlin.
In the email responding to Comey's revelations, the White House official cited former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's statement asserting there had been "no evidence" of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia by the time he left office on Jan. 20. The official also pointed to Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell's statements saying the same.
The president responded to the news early Monday morning denouncing the Russia scandal.
The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
Comey promised to "follow the facts wherever they lead" throughout the investigation.