CNN reported Thursday that the FBI and other federal agencies rejected the White House’s request to refute stories about contact between members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals, including members of the Russian intelligence community.
CNN’s report was based on multiple unnamed U.S. officials briefed on the matter.
The New York Times and CNN reported last week that members of the Trump campaign and Russian nationals were in repeated contact during the campaign.
Trump affiliates mentioned in the Times’ story all denied that they knowingly had untoward contact with Russians during the campaign. Roger Stone later denied any contact categorically.
CNN reported that contact between the White House and FBI began on Feb. 15, the day after the stories were published. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke about the story on the sidelines of a meeting about an unrelated matter, according to the network.
The White House pushed back on CNN’s characterization of the exchange. McCabe apparently told Spicer that the reports were overstated, an unnamed White House official told CNN.
[CNN has updated their story to reflect that an unnamed White House official later confirmed the network’s description of the exchange between McCabe and Priebus]
The network reported that FBI Director James Comey refused to tamp down on the stories publicly, because the contacts between Trump campaign staff and Russians is the subject of an ongoing investigation.
This post has been updated.