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 today.
“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.
In a Wednesday night interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, House Speaker Paul Ryan said firing Comey was a “serious matter,” but that he had “basically lost the confidence of a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats. … Most importantly, he lost the confidence of the president.”
What’s more, Ryan added, confidence in Comey had been eroding even within the agency.
“I think the president lost patience and I think people in the Justice Department lost confidence in Director Comey himself,” Ryan said. “The president was looking at a situation where you had senior Justice Department officials losing confidence.”
Ryan said he doesn’t think a special prosecutor is necessary because the three investigations going on in the House, Senate and FBI “are the way to go,” and that there’s “no evidence presented in any of the stages of this that suggests that collusion occurred” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The nation’s capital was thrust into political turmoil on Tuesday with the unexpected firing. Rosenstein’s letter made the case…