A 2017 New York Times report on the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence is receiving renewed scrutiny after notes from former FBI official Peter Strzok were declassified.
“The comments of Peter Strzok regarding the February 14 New York Times article are devastating in that they are an admission that there was no reliable evidence that anyone from the Trump Campaign was working with Russian Intelligence Agencies in any form,” said Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement about the declassified documents on Friday.
The committee declassified the documents containing Strzok’s comments about the New York Times article on Thursday. It’s not clear when he first wrote the typewritten notes.
The New York Times article titled, “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” claimed that Trump campaign aides had numerous interactions with Russian intelligence.
Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
Strzok refuted that claim in his notes, saying that the FBI had no evidence to support the accusation.
“This statement is misleading and inaccurate as written,” wrote Strzok in the newly declassified notes. “We have not seen evidence of any individuals affiliated with the Trump team in contact with [intelligence officers].”
Strzok went on to document the interactions between Trump campaign officials and Russian government officials, but not those of the intelligence services. One such interaction was that of Carter Page, who served briefly on the Trump campaign.
“FBI investigation has shown past contact between Page and the SVR [the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service], but not during his association with Trump campaign,” wrote Strzok.
Graham has used the release of the documents to substantiate accusations that the FBI investigation into alleged Trump campaign collusion had little or no basis in reality, and was instead motivated by animus against President Donald Trump and his policies.
The New York Times persists
Despite the refutation from declassified notes by Strzok, who has expressed a lot of animosity against the president, a spokesperson for the New York Times said they stood by their report.
“We stand by our reporting,” said spokeswoman Eileen Murphy.
Here’s more about the declassified documents:
Lindsey Graham on ‘explosive’ new Russia documents