Remnick: In fact, didn’t the FBI already know about George Papadopoulos’s involvement with the Russians? The intelligence agencies knew that the Russians were engaged in efforts to meet with members of the Trump campaign and do damage to the Clinton campaign. CIA Director [John] Brennan at that point strongly believed the Russians were supporting the Trump candidacy in many ways. Why would the FBI push that story on the New York Times a week before the election?”
Comey: Yeah, that’s a hard one to answer. I don’t know who the FBI is in this context. The FBI didn’t, at least to my knowledge, push any such story. By that point, we had concluded that there was an ongoing effort, that it had three goals: To dirty up the American democracy, to hurt Hillary Clinton and to help elect Donald Trump. And so, I don’t know who was talking to the New York Times, but that’s my reaction to it.
Remnick: You’re saying the Times’s FBI sources, on that story a week before the election, were wrong.
Comey: I don’t want to react to all of that because I’m being careful to abide my earlier rule where I’m not going to talk about details of the investigation. But at least with respect to the bit about what the goals of the Russian effort were, it’s just wrong. And that’s the challenge of an organization of 38,000 people. I don’t know who the FBI is in this context.