The FBI's acting director promised on Thursday to tell the Senate Intelligence Committee of any effort to interfere with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe into links between Russia and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.
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"I absolutely do," acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who leads the agency following President Donald Trump's abrupt firing of former director James Comey on Tuesday, told the committee, which is also investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
At the same time, Democrats in the U.S. Senate formally requested details on Thursday from the Justice Department on any additional funding ousted FBI Director James Comey may have sought to conduct his agency's Russia probe.
Senator Patrick Leahy, the senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the senior Democrat on a panel overseeing the Justice Department, made the request in a letter. They sought "details of any request for increased resources made by the FBI to DOJ" and "how this request was communicated from the FBI to DOJ, and whether similar requests were made to the White House."
A congressional source with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday that Comey told lawmakers within the past few days he had asked the Justice Department to make additional resources available - mainly more staffing - for the Russia probe.
At the Senate, the FBI's acting head said he believed the agency has sufficient resources to investigate the alleged Russian interference and he was not aware of any request for more resources.
"If you are referring to the Russia investigation, I do. I believe we have the adequate resources to do it and I know that we have resourced that investigation adequately," acting FBI director Andrew McCabe told lawmakers, adding that he was unaware of any request by the agency for additional resources.
Trump ignited a political firestorm with his abrupt decision to fire Comey on Tuesday, with critics assailing him for removing the director in the middle of an FBI investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump presidential campaign.
Democrats have ramped up calls for an independent investigation into the Russia issue, and some of the president's fellow Republicans have also said they were concerned about the timing of the move.
Trump is weighing a visit to the FBI's Washington headquarters in coming days to address agents, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CBS News.
The New York Times, citing an unnamed official, earlier reported Trump was considering visiting the headquarters on Friday but was not expected to discuss the agency's Russia investigation.
The Trump administration has said Comey's firing was unrelated to the Russia investigation and followed a meeting on Monday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Rosenstein, however, balked at White House suggestions that he had called for the firing in a memo requested by Trump, and threatened to resign, the Washington Post and ABC News reported. Reuters could not immediately confirm the reports.
In television interviews on Thursday morning, Sanders said she was unaware that Rosenstein has threatened to quit.
Rosenstein came up with the rationale to fire Comey "on his own" and that the words in his memo were not "at the direction necessarily" of Trump, the White House spokeswoman told ABC News.
Meanwhile, a senior White House official said former Republican congressman Mike Rogers is being considered as a candidate to replace Comey.
Rogers briefly served on the Trump transition team and was a national security adviser to the Trump campaign. He is a former chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee and was an FBI agent in Chicago for five years before retiring in 1994 to begin a career in Michigan politics.
A spokeswoman for Rogers did not immediately comment on the report.
In 2013, the FBI Agents Association urged then-President Barack Obama to nominate Rogers, but Obama chose Comey instead.
Reasons for dismissal
The Trump administration has given a series of accounts for what led the president to make his move.
The initial explanation on Tuesday was that Comey had mishandled the agency's election-year probe into former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Rosenstein detailed Comey's actions on this in the memo that the administration circulated on Tuesday, along with a memo from Sessions and Trump's own brief statement that he was dismissing Comey.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he fired the director because he was not doing a good job.
White House officials said on Wednesday Trump's anger at Comey had been building for months but a turning point came when the FBI chief refused to preview for top Trump aides his planned testimony to a May 3 Senate hearing on the Clinton email issue, an act Trump and his aides took it as an act of insubordination.
Before he axed Comey, Trump had publicly expressed frustration with the FBI and congressional probes into the Russia matter.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in a January report that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an effort to disrupt the 2016 election that included hacking into Democratic Party emails and leaking them, with the aim of helping Trump. Moscow has denied any such meddling and the Trump administration denies allegations of collusion with Russia.
A congressional source with knowledge of the matter said Comey told lawmakers within the past few days he had asked the U.S. Justice Department to make additional resources available – mainly more staffing – for the Russia probe.
Comey informed lawmakers of that request after the Senate Intelligence Committee, conducting its own investigation, asked the FBI to speed up its inquiry, the source said.
On Wednesday night, the Senate panel ramped up its months-long probe by issuing subpoenas for documents related to Russia from Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn was fired by Trump just three weeks into the job for misrepresenting to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence the nature of conversations he had in December with the Russian ambassador to Washington.
The committee has also asked Comey to testify before the panel in private next Tuesday, according to the panel's senior Democrat, Mark Warner.