A phony Russian document influenced the way the FBI handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s server, according to The Washington Post.
During the middle of the 2016 presidential primary season, the bureau received a purported Russian intelligence document detailing an implicit deal between Clinton’s campaign and the Justice Department regarding the inquiry into her private email server, the paper said.
The document, obtained by the FBI, described how the Attorney General at the time, Loretta Lynch, had privately assured a Clinton campaign member that the email investigation would not go too far, the Post reported.
Receipt of the document then allegedly helped influence the July decision by then-FBI Director James Comey to announce on his own, without the Justice Department’s involvement, that the investigation into Clinton was finished and that no charges against Clinton would be forthcoming.
The public announcement set off an uproar on both sides of the political spectrum.
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According to The Post, the FBI later determined that the document was illegitimate. It may have been a fake sent to confuse the bureau, people familiar with its contents told the paper.
The Americans mentioned in a purported email exchange in the document have since insisted that they don’t know each other, don’t speak to one another and never had conversations like those detailed in the document.
By August, the month after Comey’s public announcement, the FBI had concluded that the document was bogus, the Post said.
The paper’s report comes amid new developments in the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Top Russian intelligence and political officials discussed ways to gain influence over Trump through his advisers during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to The New York Times.
Conversations between the officials targeted Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman for Trump at the time and Michael Flynn, the retired general who was advising Trump during the campaign. American spies collected the information last summer, according to the Times.
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Both Manafort and Flynn, who was later hired and fired as Trump’s national security adviser, had indirect links to Russian officials. The officials allegedly felt confident that each man could be used to help shape Trump’s opinions on Russia.
Some of the Russian officials involved in the communications bragged about how well they knew Flynn while others discussed utilizing ties between Viktor F. Yanukovych, the deposed Ukranian president living in exile in Russia, and Manafort, according to the report.
Both Manafort and Yanukovych previously worked closely together.