In what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called “one of the worst classified briefings we’ve received from the Trump administration,” according to Politico, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attempted to assure lawmakers from both parties on Friday that there was nothing fishy about the administration’s decision last month to lift sanctions on companies controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is a top person of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russian efforts to tilt the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.
Though Mnuchin testified behind closed doors, some details of his testimony — described by Pelosi as “a waste of time” — were quickly revealed. Mnuchin insisted that congress should simply “trust” Trump on such Russia-related matters, after the sudden removal of the Deripaska sanctions, according to Reuters. The move came just eight months after the sanctions had been imposed by the Treasury Department and Mnuchin himself.
But as startling as Mnuchin’s vague testimony apparently was to the lawmakers who heard it, his enjoining of congress to “trust” Trump was followed just hours later by an even more stunning revelation, courtesy of the New York Times. The paper published an explosive report late Friday, revealing that in May of 2017, the FBI opened an investigation into whether Trump was actually a Russian agent “working on behalf of Russia against American interests.”
The FBI opened the investigation in the aftermath of Trump’s sudden firing of the Bureau’s then-director. James Comey, and after Trump told NBC News interviewer Lester Holt that he was considering “this Russia thing” when he fired Comey.
On May 10, 2017, the day after Trump fired Comey, Trump met with two top Russian officials in the Oval Office, telling them that firing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him. He then allegedly passed the two Russians, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, classified information about anti-terrorism efforts in the Middle East, as Inquisitr reported at the time.
But the FBI first became alarmed about the possibility that Trump could be working for Russia “against American interests,” when, during a June, 2016, press conference, as he was campaigning for president, he publicly called on Russia to hack the emails of his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to the New York Times report.
According to Mueller’s findings, as stated in court documents filed in July of 2018, within hours of Trump’s public request, Russian hackers did, in fact, make their first attempt to infiltrate Clinton’s personal servers, as Inquisitr reported.