Sunday 24 June 2018

Trump accuses the FBI of 'Spygate' in Russia probe

“Spygate could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” President Trump tweeted. Photo: AP
“Spygate could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” President Trump tweeted. Photo: AP

Nick Allen

Donald Trump has accused the FBI of being involved in a scandal he branded "Spygate" following its reported use of a retired Cambridge University professor to glean information about whether his presidential campaign colluded with Russia.

The US president, writing on Twitter, escalated his recent attacks on the agency, referring to what he called the "Criminal Deep State".

It came after Stefan Halper, a retired professor and Life Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge, was named in US media reports as an FBI source who approached three Trump campaign advisers in the summer of 2016. The professor has made no comment and the FBI declined to do so.

Mr Trump, who did not name the professor, wrote: "SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!"

He added: "If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn't a SPY put there by the previous administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered - many times higher than normal.

"Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!"

Mr Trump also suggested agencies other than the FBI may have "spied" on his campaign.

He quoted a Fox News legal analyst saying: "It's clear that they had eyes and ears all over the Trump campaign."

James Comey, who was FBI director at the time of the alleged events, and later fired by Mr Trump, hit back.

On Twitter he wrote: "Facts matter. The FBI's use of Confidential Human Sources (the actual term) is tightly regulated and essential to protecting the country. Attacks on the FBI and lying about its work will do lasting damage to our country. How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?"

Democrats accused Mr Trump of using the episode in an attempt to undermine and distract from the inquiry being led by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether there was collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia. Meanwhile, President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (€341,000) to arrange talks between Mr Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last year, the BBC reported last night.

The payment was arranged by intermediaries acting for Mr Poroshenko who wanted to open a back channel to the Republican president, the BBC said, citing unnamed sources in Kiev.

Mr Cohen, who was not registered as a representative of Ukraine, was brought in because Ukraine's registered lobbyists and its embassy in Washington could get Mr Poroshenko little more than a photo op with Mr Trump while the Ukrainian leader "needed something that could be portrayed as 'talks'," the broadcaster reported.

"This story is completely false," Mr Cohen said in a text message to Reuters.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(© Daily Telegraph, London/Reuters)

Telegraph.co.uk

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