Priebus denies collusion between Trump campaign and Russian officials

Priebus denies collusion between Trump campaign and Russian officials
Posted at 5:35 AM, Feb 20, 2017

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday there was no collusion between anyone involved in President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian officials.

Priebus, in an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, also offered the closest thing to an official timeline for former national security adviser Michael Flynn's firing, who was asked to resign after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about US sanctions before Trump took office.



The time frame Priebus laid out, however, leaves it unclear exactly when Pence was told Flynn had misled him.

Priebus said then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House counsel Don McGahn on January 26 about Flynn's talks with the Russian ambassador.

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"The next day or the day after, the investigation was closed and no longer going on," Priebus said. "Then the issue shifted to whether or not something was done that was wrong. The vice president was then looped in on this situation, and we talked to the vice president about whether or not Michael Flynn was being honest or not. The vice president knew that there was an FBI interview. And ultimately, we decided after about 10 days, bringing the vice president in, that we decided that he wasn't being honest. That is the timeline. It happened very quickly."

Two administration officials have told CNN, however, that Pence did not learn Flynn misled him until February 9.

Priebus also complained about the use of anonymous sources in news stories about contact between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential race, saying intelligence leaders have told him those reports are "complete garbage."

When Wallace asked Priebus who in the intelligence community had told him that, Priebus said, "I'm not going to tell you. I can't tell you that."

Wallace replied: "Wait a minute, Reince. You just complained about unnamed sources. You're using an unnamed source."

"Well, because I didn't ask for approval to use their name," Priebus said. "But I will tell you this: When I say top-level people, I mean top-level people, OK?"

Priebus complained that Wallace was "going bananas" with his line of questioning and called the questions "ridiculous."