Marco Rubio Breaks With Trump: FBI ‘Did Not Spy’ On President’s Campaign

“I don’t think they did anything wrong,” the GOP senator said of the wiretapping of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
By Hayley Miller
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Sunday he doesn’t believe the FBI “spied” on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, as Trump and his allies have repeatedly claimed.
Rubio disputed Trump’s characterization during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, saying that FBI investigators were justified in their October 2016 wiretapping of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser. The agents, it has been learned, had reason to believe Russia had sought to recruit Page as part of the scheme to subvert the presidential election.
“I don’t think they did anything wrong,” Rubio said of the FBI efforts. “I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They laid out all the information ― and there was a lot of reasons… for why they wanted to look at Carter Page.”
The Justice Department released a trove of documents on Saturday that included the FBI’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications to surveil Page.
“The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government… to undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law,” according to the documents.
Page has repeatedly denied being a Russian agent. Appearing on Tapper’s “State of the Union” program before Rubio, he said he had once served as an “informal” adviser to the Kremlin, but that it was “totally unreasonable” to say he may have been unwittingly working with Russians during the ’16 campaign.
In a series of tweets Sunday, Trump claimed the previously classified documents showed the FBI “misled the courts” and that his campaign “was illegally being spied upon.”
But Rubio, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, steadfastly disagreed with Trump on the FBI’s FISA warrants and surveillance of Page.
“I have a different view on this issue than the president and the White House,” he said on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” also on Sunday. “They did not spy on the campaign from anything and everything that I have seen. You have an individual here [Page] who has openly bragged about his ties to Russia and Russians.”
“Yes, they were looking into this one individual ― but an individual the campaign themselves said was not a big part of their efforts,” he continued. “Therefore I wouldn’t consider that spying on a campaign.”
Rubio was among the many Republicans that Trump defeated in the race for the party’s presidential nomination two years ago.

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Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page gets closed-door grilling from House Republicans

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Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page gets closed-door grilling from House Republicans
© Anna Moneymaker

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page on Friday afternoon faced a grilling from House Republicans keen to uncover any discrepancies between her testimony and Peter Strzok’s, the counterintelligence agent who testified in public for 10 hours the day before.

Where the marathon Strzok hearing was a pageant display of the animosity and deeply divided politics surrounding the bureau, Page’s closed-door deposition led to few fireworks.

She did not answer questions from reporters entering and exiting the Judiciary Committee’s closed spaces — and the handful of lawmakers who conducted the interview provided few details.

Multiple Republican lawmakers described Page as cooperative and credible — in marked contrast to their vituperative characterizations of Strzok — and said she answered some questions that Strzok would not.

The interview is just the first of two slated sessions. Page is scheduled to return on Monday to continue answering questions.

“The overriding issue for us today is, will her testimony match up with his testimony?” said Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas).

Strzok on Thursday gave a confident and passionate defense of his conduct during the 2016 presidential election, denying that he displayed any bias when exchanging thousands of texts with Page that were critical of then-candidate Trump. The two were having an extramarital affair at the time.

Strzok further infuriated lawmakers when he declined to answer some questions on the instruction of the FBI, where he is still employed.

The appearance of FBI counsel in the interview with Page, who left the bureau in May, also frustrated Republicans Friday.

“Lisa Page is not an FBI employee, but the FBI was here providing counsel and giving her direction as to which questions to answer or not answer and there is a question as to the propriety of that before the House,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a frequent and vocal critic of the bureau.

Page also defended herself against charges of bias, according to GOP lawmakers in the room, providing context to the texts that they found unpersuasive — if not as patently offensive — as they found Strzok’s self-defense the day before.

One Democratic congressional source said Page appeared less assertive and confident in her answers than Strzok had been. That person added that two hours into the interview, she did not appear to have contradicted his testimony in any way.

Republican lawmakers see Strzok and Page as the key to exposing what they see as rampant bias within the Justice Department at a time when the bureau was conducting investigations related to both presidential candidates.

Strzok was one of the lead investigators on the Clinton email probe and was involved in the beginning days of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. Page was a close advisor to then-deputy director Andrew McCabe, long a hot target on the right.

Democrats see the GOP-led probe — a joint investigation run by the chairmen of the Judiciary and Oversight Committees — as a partisan sham designed to undercut special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The leaders of the probe have pushed back fiercely on that assertion, although several conservative members of the panel have used revelations about Strzok and Page to call for the Mueller probe to be shut down. The president and his allies repeatedly have described the federal investigation as a “witch hunt.”

“Our investigation is into what happened in the FBI in two investigations in 2016. It has nothing to do with what Robert Mueller is doing,” Judiciary chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Friday.

Just hours before Page arrived on Capitol Hill, Mueller handed down an indictment of 12 Russian nationals accused of hacking into Democratic political organizations and disseminating the stolen emails.

Page’s appearance on Friday came after she defied a subpoena to appear before the House on Wednesday. Page, at the time, said she had not yet received enough information about the scope of the committee’s questioning and access to her FBI notes and other documents. (Republicans characterized that rationale as an “excuse” and Ratcliffe on Friday suggested that she had intentionally wanted to hear Strzok’s testimony before she spoke to investigators.)

Lawmakers then threatened Page with contempt if she did not appear either publicly with Strzok on Thursday or on Friday behind closed doors.

Page’s texts with Strzok were a focal point of a deeply critical report from the Justice Department inspector general (IG) examining the bureau’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

In perhaps the most explosive new revelation from the report, Strzok told Page “We’ll stop it,” after being asked, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”

Page left the bureau in May. Mueller removed Strzok from his team after learning of the texts and he was recently escorted from the building in what is believed to be a precursor to his dismissal.

The IG, in particular, found that Strzok displayed a “biased state of mind” during a critical phase of the Clinton investigation, but that no decision made during the course of the probe was a result of bias or improper influence.

Strzok repeatedly made the case on Thursday that his personal political opinions did not inform his professional decision-making during the 2016 election.

“At no time, in any of these texts, did those personal beliefs ever enter into the realm of any action I took,” Strzok said, adding that “multiple layers” of agents above and below him at the bureau would not have tolerated any “improper behavior.”

The “we’ll stop it” text, he said, was “written late at night, off the cuff and it was in response to a series of events that included then-candidate Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero.”

But his explanations did not satisfy Republicans on Thursday, who hammered him from the dais for everything from bias to perjury to “[looking] so innocently into your wife’s eye and [lying] to her about Lisa Page.”

And despite Republicans’ relatively complimentary assessment of her forthcomingness on Friday, Page’s testimony appears to have done little to calm the waters.

“The specific questions that Lisa Page answered that Peter Strzok did not heightened my concern that the processes at the FBI were contrived to fit the desired outcomes of people who were biased in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump,” Gaetz said.

 

 

 

 

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Fired FBI Director James Comey Compares Trump To A ‘Mob Boss’ In New Interview: Axios

By Guardians of Democracy Staff
Published on April 11, 2018   In his first interview since being fired by President Trump last May, former FBI Director James Comey will reportedly compare Trump to a mob boss, reports Axios

A source present at the taping says Comey’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, airing Sunday at 10 p.m. as a “20/20” special, is “going to shock the president and his team” and will generate headlines and “certainly add more meat to the charges swirling around Trump.”
According to the source, the Comey interview “left people in the room stunned” after telling “George things that he’s never said before.” They also told Axios that the experience was “surreal” and that “Comey answered every question.”  In a clip of the interview released by ABC News on Wednesday, Stephanopoulos asks Comey, “How strange is it for you to sit here and compare the president to a mob boss?”  Comey’s book, titled “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” is set to release on April 17.
Comey’s firing by President Trump sparked the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

 

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