FBI Director James Comey denied a request by the White House to publicly challenge news reports about communications between aides of President Donald Trump and Russian officials before the inauguration that had been intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies, according to U.S. officials.
Comey rebuffed the White House because the intercepted communications are the subject of a continuing FBI investigation, the officials told CNN.
The reports of the Russian conversations were reported by The New York Times and CNN on Feb. 14.
The next day, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe discussed the possibility of the agency commenting publicly "on the sidelines" of another meeting, one law-enforcement official told CNN.
However, a White House official disputed the account Thursday, countering that McCabe called Priebus that morning and that the Times report "vastly overstates" what the FBI knows about the Russian contacts.
The White House official told CNN that Priebus later broached both McCabe and Comey about having the FBI at least speak to reporters on background to dispute the stories.
McCabe did not discuss aspects of the case with Priebus, a law-enforcement official told CNN, though the official would not disclose what McCabe exactly said to the White House chief of staff.
Both the White House and FBI declined to comment to CNN publicly for the report, though Priebus slammed the Times article on "Fox News Sunday."
"The New York Times put out an article with no direct sources that said that the Trump campaign had constant contacts with Russian spies, basically, some treasonous type of accusations," he told host Chris Wallace.
"We have now all kinds of people looking into this.
"I can assure you — and I have been approved to say this — that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it's grossly overstated and it was wrong," Priebus said. "And there's nothing to it."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.