Written by Nicholas Fandos and Michael S Schmidt
President Donald Trump on Saturday unleashed an extended assault on the FBI and the special counsel’s investigation, knitting together a comprehensive alternative story in which he had been framed by disgraced “losers” at the bureau’s highest levels.
In a two-hour span starting at 7 am, the president made a series of false claims on Twitter about his adversaries and the events surrounding the inquiry. He was responding to a report in The New York Times that, after he fired James Comey as FBI director in 2017, the bureau began investigating whether the president had acted on behalf of Russia.
In his tweets, the president accused Hillary Clinton, without evidence, of breaking the law by lying to the FBI. He claimed that Comey was corrupt and best friends with special counsel Robert Mueller. He said Mueller was employing a team of Democrats — another misleading assertion — bent on taking him down.
Trump accused the FBI of opening “for no reason” and “with no proof” an investigation in 2017 into whether he had been working against American interests on behalf of Russia, painting his own actions toward Russia as actually “FAR tougher” than those of his predecessors.
Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
The Times article, published Friday evening, reported that law enforcement officials became so alarmed by Trump’s behavior surrounding his firing of Comey that they took the explosive step of opening a counterintelligence investigation against him.
Naming several of the bureau’s now-departed top officials, including Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, Trump said the FBI had “tried to do a number on your President,” accusing the “losers” of essentially fabricating a case.
Trump indicated Saturday that he had not known of the existence of the counterintelligence investigation before the Times article, and he did not dispute the newspaper’s reporting.
But he made clear that he viewed any such inquiry as illegitimate from the start. He presented it, without evidence, as part of a vast, yearslong conspiracy to undo his presidency.
Comey responded on Twitter on Saturday with a quotation attributed to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”