President Trump today unleashed an extended assault on the F.B.I. and the special counsel’s investigation, knitting together a comprehensive alternative story in which he had been framed by disgraced “losers” at the bureau’s highest levels.

In a two-hour span, Trump made a series of false claims on Twitter about his adversaries and the events surrounding the inquiry.

He was responding to a report in The New York Times that, after he fired James Comey as F.B.I. director in 2017, the bureau began investigating whether the president had acted on behalf of Russia.

In his tweets, the president accused Hillary Clinton, without evidence, of breaking the law by lying to the F.B.I.

He claimed that Comey was corrupt and best friends with the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

He said Mueller was employing a team of Democrats — another misleading assertion — bent on taking him down.

Individually, the president’s claims were familiar.

But as the special counsel’s inquiry edges ever closer to him, Democrats vow a blizzard of investigations of their own and the government shutdown reaches record lengths, Trump compiled all the threads of the conspiracy theory he has pushed for many months in an effort to discredit the investigation.

Trump accused the F.B.I. of opening “for no reason” and “with no proof” an investigation in 2017 into whether he had been working against American interests on behalf of Russia, painting his own actions toward Russia as actually “FAR tougher” than those of his predecessors.

The Times article, published Friday evening, reported that law enforcement officials became so alarmed by Trump’s behavior surrounding his firing of Comey that they took the explosive step of opening a counterintelligence investigation against him.

At the time he was fired in May 2017, Comey had been leading the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and the officials believed that his removal, in hindering the inquiry, posed a possible threat to national security.

Their decision to open the case was informed, in part, by two instances in which Trump tied the firing to the Russia investigation.

The inquiry they opened had two aspects, including both the newly disclosed counterintelligence element and a criminal element that has long been publicly known: whether the firing constituted obstruction of justice.

When Mueller was appointed days later, he took over the joint inquiry as part of his larger investigation of Russia’s action in 2016 and whether anyone on the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow.

It is not clear whether he is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter, and no public evidence has emerged that Trump himself secretly conspired with the Russian government or took directions from it.

Trump indicated today that he had not known of the existence of the counterintelligence investigation before the Times article, and he did not dispute the newspaper’s reporting.

 

Attribution:The New York Times
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