(Via ABC News)
FBI Director James Comey requested additional money and staffing from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election just days before his firing, according to two sources, including Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and a U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.
News of the request, first reported by The New York Times, came as Trump administration officials claimed that Comey’s termination was unrelated to the investigation. Comey briefed some members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the request on Monday, according to the U.S. official.
Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Flores denied Wednesday morning that such a request to the Justice Department, saying that it is “100 percent false” and “it didn’t happen.”
She added that the denial came directly from Rosenstein, who wrote a letter to Trump on Tuesday recommending Comey’s dismissal.
Later Wednesday, Flores said that the last meeting between Comey and Rosenstein was on May 1. During that meeting they “talked about issues unrelated to what is being reported,” she said, and resources for Russia probe were not discussed.
“There is no kernel of truth” to the allegations, said Flores.
But Durbin shared a different set of events with The New York Times Wednesday.
“I’m told that as soon as Rosenstein arrived, there was a request for additional resources for the investigation and that a few days afterwards, he was sacked,” he told the paper.
“I think the Comey operation was breathing down the neck of the Trump campaign and their operatives and this was an effort to slow down the investigation.”
ABC News confirmed with Durbin’s spokesperson his quotes were accurate.
President Donald Trump’s sudden dismissal of Comey on Tuesday came at a crucial moment in the investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election, raising fears that the move could undermine the nearly yearlong probe.
“The inescapable conclusion from the circumstantial evidence here is the president wanted to stop or stifle this investigation,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told ABC News.
While most Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to independently investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential ties to the Trump campaign, now that Comey, who was leading that investigation, has been fired, reactions from Republicans in Congress differ, with many criticizing the move but stopping short of calling for an independent commission.
Among Republicans, Arizona Senator John McCain, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash and Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo also are calling for a special prosecutor, a request Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., dismissed on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, officials tell ABC News a grand jury is already impaneled, and adding to the White House concerns this week are new indications the investigation may have expanded to include Trump’s business and personal finances.
Comey has been invited to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next Tuesday. No word yet on whether or not he will.