AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsely says 'no crime' in Russia probe
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In blistering tweets, President Donald Trump again skews facts regarding the government investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, claiming "no crime" was uncovered and a House intelligence panel had concluded there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.
The weekend tweets attacked special counsel Robert Mueller's probe as meaningless and biased. They also exulted in the firing of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, once a leader of the bureau's investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton's email practices. The FBI's decision not to pursue criminal charges against Clinton infuriated Trump at the time and still does.
A look at some of the misleading claims:
TRUMP: "Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added...does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!" - tweet Sunday.
THE FACTS: Trump's suggestion that the Mueller investigation is politically biased lacks important context.
Several members of Mueller's team have made political contributions to Democratic candidates, including Clinton. But Mueller, who is a longtime Republican, could not have barred them from serving on the team. Federal regulations and Justice Department policy prohibit the consideration of political affiliation in hiring and other personnel actions involving career attorneys.
Mueller reports to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, an ex-U.S. attorney under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama who was named to the Justice Department post by Trump. Rosenstein serves under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a Trump appointee to the Cabinet.
TRUMP: "The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!" - tweet Saturday.
THE FACTS: He's incorrect to say "no crime" was found.
So far, four former Trump campaign aides have been charged with financial crimes or with lying to the FBI, and three of them have pleaded guilty and agreed to assist in Mueller's investigation. Those who pleaded guilty are former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign aide Rick Gates. Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has pleaded not guilty to charges in the case.
In all, six people - including the four Trump campaign aides - have been charged, along with 13 Russians accused in a hidden but powerful social media campaign to meddle in the American election.
Trump's claim that the Russia probe was based on a "fake dossier" is also inaccurate. The FBI's investigation began months before it received a dossier of anti-Trump research funded by the Democratic Party and Clinton's campaign. The FBI probe's origins were based on other evidence - not the existence of the dossier.
TRUMP: "As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State." - tweet Saturday.
THE FACTS: He's wrong. That conclusion came from Republicans on the committee; it was not a committee finding. Democrats on the committee sharply dispute the Republican conclusions and will issue their own.
Whatever the findings of the committee, Mueller is leading the key investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Russian contacts with the Trump campaign. The probe has produced a number of charges and convictions, none to date alleging criminal collusion. But Mueller continues to explore whether collusion occurred and whether Trump or others may have obstructed justice.
Trump did not specify what he meant in accusing the agencies of corruption. McCabe was fired ahead of the release of an inspector general's report that's expected to conclude he was not forthcoming about matters related to the FBI investigation of Clinton's emails.
TRUMP: "The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired. How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife's campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation? How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!" - tweet Saturday.
THE FACTS: Some context is missing here. This is true: McCabe's wife, Jill McCabe, ran as a Democrat for the Virginia state Senate in 2015, and the political action committee of Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave her campaign $500,000 during her race. McAuliffe is a longtime associate of Hillary Clinton, branded "Crooked H" by Trump. Jill McCabe lost the race.
Trump's complaint, as he spelled it out in the past, is that Clinton-linked money went to "the wife of the FBI agent who was in charge of her investigation." But that timeline is wrong. Andrew McCabe was elevated to deputy FBI director and didn't become involved in the Clinton email probe until after his wife's bid for office was over. The FBI said McCabe's promotion and supervisory position in the email investigation happened three months after the campaign.
The bureau also said in a statement at the time that McCabe sought guidance from agency ethics officers and recused himself from "all FBI investigative matters involving Virginia politics" throughout his wife's campaign.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
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EDITOR'S NOTE - A look at the veracity of claims by political figures