White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to dispute media reports that President Trump's campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election, a White House official told the AP late Thursday. The official said Priebus' request came after the FBI told the White House it didn't believe a New York Times report last week describing those contacts. As of Thursday, the FBI had not stated that position publicly and there was no indication it planned to. The White House official would not comment when asked if the administration was concerned about the appropriateness of Priebus' communications with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Priebus' discussion with McCabe sparked outrage among some Democrats, who said he was violating policies intended to limit communications between the law enforcement agency and the White House on pending investigations. "The White House is simply not permitted to pressure the FBI to make public statements about a pending investigation of the president and his advisers," says Michigan Rep. John Conyers. CNN reports that after it first reported the discussion, White House press secretary Sean Spicer disputed their account. "We didn't try to knock the story down," he said. "We asked them to tell the truth." The FBI declined to comment. (Read more FBI stories.)