A senior White House official close to President Donald Trump is now a "significant person of interest" in the FBI's investigation into whether Trump or his associates colluded with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election, according to a new report.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that "the senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president." Law-enforcement officials would not further identify the person.
The bureau is investigating several of Trump's former associates — including Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, and Michael Flynn, his national security adviser — regarding their foreign contacts and payments throughout 2016.
Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has also landed on investigators' radar for meeting privately with Sergey Gorkov, the CEO of a Russian state-owned bank, during the transition.
Kushner also met with Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, in December at Trump Tower with Flynn. Kislyak set up the meeting between Kushner and Gorkov, according to a report from The Times. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also come under scrutiny for meeting with Kislyak during last year's campaign, something he did not disclose during his confirmation hearings.
"As the president has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity," Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said in a statement in response to The Post's report.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday appointed a special counsel to lead the FBI's Russia investigation — one day after The Times reported that Trump had pressured James Comey, the FBI director whom Trump fired on May 9, to drop the bureau's probe into Flynn.
The Times reported on Friday that during a meeting in the Oval Office on May 10, Trump told Russian diplomats that Comey was "a nut job."
"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," Trump said, according to an official summary of the meeting that a US official read to The Times. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."
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