The White House unsuccessfully pressed the FBI and other intelligence agencies to discredit recent news reports asserting alleged contacts between associates of President Trump and Russian officials, a U.S. official said Thursday.
The official who is not authorized to comment publicly said the White House sought to specifically refute reports earlier this month in The New York Times claiming that Trump associates had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the course of the past year.
CNN first reported the development earlier Thursday.
In addition to the FBI, the official said other agencies were approached with a similar request. The official declined to elaborate or identify which agencies received similar requests from White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Earlier this month, a U.S. official said a months-long inquiry into contacts between Russian government officials and associates of Trump’s campaign and business interests was continuing despite the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misleading White House officials about his communication with Russia.
The federal inquiry — which has amassed intercepts of telephone calls, business records and subject interviews — is looking at how Russian officials sought to meddle in the November election, said the official who is not authorized to comment publicly. The official added that there was no current evidence of collusion to tilt the election.
The extent and purpose of those alleged contacts, believed to involve a limited number of Trump campaign and business associates, continue to be weighed, including whether the associates were aware they were communicating with Russian intelligence officials or those working on behalf of the Russian government, the official said.