The FBI says it has information that points to associates of President Donald Trump as having been in communication with suspected Russian operatives, with the intention of releasing damning information that could have impacted Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
FBI Director James Comey made a shocking announcement on 20th March 2017 before congress. He said that the FBI was investigating President Trump’s campaign ties to Russia based on one source. The FBI is currently reviewing the information which includes travel, business and phone records, human intelligence, as well as accounts of in-person meetings. Although the information under investigation has raised suspicion, the FBI cautions that investigations are still ongoing and therefore people should not make any conclusions on the matter.
FBI’s Comey in his statement said that the information they received prompted them to investigate the matter, as it implied the possibility that there could be an American working as an agent of a foreign authority. The White house has not commented on the issue and Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian government was not going to comment on evidence from unnamed sources.
Prior to this, FBI had already been carrying out investigations on four of Donald Trump’s campaign associates Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Michael Flynn and Roger Stone for their involvement with Russians known to Intelligence in the US. All four have however denied ever having any improper interactions in Russia.
The FBI currently faces the challenge of getting conclusive intelligence in connecting Trump’s associates to the Russians. Some Russian officials have further changed their means of communicating, thus making FBI’s monitoring efforts extremely challenging.
Russian intelligence agencies had allegedly started releasing hacked emails that had been stolen from the Democratic National Committee as well as those pertaining to Clinton campaign officials and associated organizations. Intelligence further suggests that the Russian operatives were involved in the publication of what was termed as ‘fake news’, which were stories intended to undermine Hillary Clinton’s campaign efforts. The FBI says it’s, however, less concerned with the publication of the fake news, because they are ideally protected under free speech.
The release of the leaked emails, on the other hand, changed what would have been an ordinary cyber intrusion to a much bigger case that needed investigating by the FBI counterintelligence division.
Ordinarily, investigations by the FBI counterintelligence are usually lengthy and usually involves some of the most highly classified programs in the US government. This can, therefore, make the investigations difficult and hard for investigators to criminally charge individuals without exposing these highly classified programs.
Most Americans and the rest of the world are eager to get the FBI results following the allegations that were made before President Donald Trump was elected into power. Many wonder what the impact of the results will be on Trump’s presidency as well as his campaign associates. The FBI has confirmed that this will be a lengthy process and it is not certain how long it will take to conclude investigations.