Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday said that the idea that President Trump was a threat to national security was “absolutely ludicrous” after the New York Times reported that the FBI launched an investigation into whether Trump posed such a threat.
“I’m not going to comment on New York Times stories but I’ll certainly say this: The notion that President Trump is a threat to American national security is absolutely ludicrous,” Pompeo said on CBS’ "Face the Nation” in an interview to be aired Sunday.
The Times reported in a bombshell story Friday that law enforcement officials became concerned after the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 that the agency began investigating if Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests and was a threat to national security.
The timing of the investigation raises questions as both Comey and FBI lawyer Lisa Page told House investigators last year that by the time the FBI director was fired and special counsel appointed, there was no hard evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
Former law enforcement officials told the newspaper that the criminal and counterintelligence elements of the investigation were combined because Trump’s firing of the FBI director could constitute both a crime and a national security threat as it would hinder the agency’s abilities to learn how the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election.
Pompeo, a former CIA director, was one of a number of Trump administration officials to blast the revelations contained in the Times’ report.
"The idea that's contained in The New York Times story that President Trump was a threat to American national security is silly on its face and not worthy of a response," Pompeo said
Other administration officials and Trump allies also weighed in on the report, suggesting that it was a sign that the FBI was out of control. Trump, in a series of tweets described former leaders of the agency as “corrupt” and accused them of opening an investigation for no reason & with no proof.”
John Dowd, the president’s attorney on special counsel matters, said the Times story is “an unwitting disclosure and verification of the utter corruption of their oaths by Comey and his colleagues to undermine the free election of the President of the United States.”
“It was apparently done under the supervision of the deputy attorney general who was reportedly ready to wear a wire to ensnare President Trump. This is the stuff of banana republics and dictatorships," he said.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the story was "more evidence that FBI leaders actually had no real evidence against the Trump team."
"Instead, they were simply trying to undermine a president they didn’t like and avenge Comey’s firing. By relying on the Steele dossier — a fraudulent document funded by Democrats and based on Russian sources — FBI leaders were either complicit or too oblivious to notice they were being used in a disinformation operation by the Democratic Party and Russian operatives,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement Saturday with a different perspective.
“While I cannot comment on the specifics of the New York Times report, I can say that counterintelligence concerns about those associated with the Trump campaign, including the President himself, have been at the heart of our investigation since the beginning," his statement said. "Those concerns have not been alleviated by the Committee’s work over the last two years; to the contrary, the abundance of meetings, contacts, and communications between Trump associates and the Russians, and the web of lies about those interactions, and the President’s own statements and actions, have only heightened our need to follow the evidence wherever it may lead.
“This is also why the President’s financial interests and entanglements — as well as those around him — have been of core interest. The House Intelligence Committee has a responsibility to the American people to ensure that the President is working in our national interest and is not motivated by any other factor, and we are pressing forward with that work.”
Comey didn't directly respond on the story or Trump's remarks, only tweeting a quote from former President Franklin D. Roosevelt: "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.”
The FBI investigation has since been taken over by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. There’s no indication that Mueller is continuing to pursue the counterintelligence matter.
Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.