FBI Director James Comey sought to publish an op-ed as early as last summer about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, but was barred from doing so by the Obama White House, Newsweekreported Wednesday.
In a White House meeting in June or July, Comey reportedly brought with him a draft of the proposed op-ed and presented it to top administration officials, including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
“He had a draft of it or an outline,” a source with knowledge of the meeting told Newsweek. “He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward, what do people think of this?'”
White House officials at the time ultimately rejected the idea, deciding instead that any effort to make information about Russian election meddling public should be coordinated between multiple federal agencies, according to the report.
“An op-ed doesn’t have the same stature, it comes from one person,” the source said.
A second source told Newsweek that the op-ed would have included some of the same information as an intelligence report made public on Jan. 6 alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an extensive campaign to interfere in and influence the U.S. election in President Trump’s favor.
Comey, the source said, most likely would have sought to publish the piece in The New York Times.
News of the suspected Russian interference wasn’t made public until Oct. 7, when the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced their belief that the Kremlin had meddled in the election. Since then, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that there was interference by Moscow.
Comey revealed during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee last week that the FBI is investigating Russian meddling in the election as well as potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. The committee, as well as its counterpart in the Senate, is also investigating.
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