Last week, Political Dig reported that the FBI rejected a White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential campaign. Now, a bombshell report just revealed who orchestrated the cover-up.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected outside officials with reporters to try to discredit a New York Times article about Trump campaign aides’ contact with Russia, Axios reported Monday.
According to the report, Spicer remained on the line for the brief conversations to make sure the cover-up was executed as planned.
The new details show how determined the West Wing was to discredit a front-page Times report on Feb. 15 that Trump campaign aides “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials during the election.”
As reported by Axios, the officials reached by Spicer were CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-N.C), according to a senior administration official. The reporters were from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the official said.
Spicer provided reporters’ phone numbers to House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who offered to make the calls himself, according to the official: “He was in and out of an event.”
Spicer made the arrangement after the NY Times –which Trump reads every day– reported that “Trump Aides Had Contact With Russian Intelligence: U.S. Officials Tell of a Flurry of Phone Calls Intercepted Before the Election.”
Spicer declined to comment on the report, but the source said Spicer didn’t know at the time whether an investigation of Trump contacts with Russia was underway, and was trying to make sure the connections were made before evening deadlines, according to the report.
“We’d been getting incoming all day,” the official said. “Ironically, the White House was actually encouraging people with direct knowledge of the accuracy of the Times story to discuss it with other reporters.”
The sources weren’t sure exactly how many calls were made, or which official talked to which reporter, according to the report.
“This is highly unusual,” Intelligence officials from the Obama administration said. “It’s rare for the CIA director to talk directly to a single journalist.”
Political Dig reported the pushback operation last week night under the headline: “FBI Refuses a White House Request to Cover-Up Trump-Russia Scandal”
Now Democrats are calling for a special prosecutor or outside, 9/11-style commission to investigate Russian involvement in the election, by rather than the congressional intelligence committees.
“It’s doubtful that Congress can conduct an objective and independent investigation into ties between this White House and the Russian government if it is collaborating so closely on media pushback with the White House press secretary,” George Little, a top CIA and Pentagon spokesman under President Obama said.