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Former FBI agent Peter Strzok said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that Rudy Giuliani's work with a Ukrainian lawmaker who was sanctioned by the U.S. last week for pro-Russian election interference is part of a "pervasive pattern of contact" that Trump associates have had with Russia.

The big picture: Strzok led the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and worked for special counsel Robert Mueller before being removed and later fired by the FBI for sending text messages critical of President Trump.

  • Strzok has been the subject of frequent attacks by Trump allies who believe the Russia investigation was politically motivated.
  • He writes in a new book that he believes Trump is "compromised" by the Russian government due to his financial entanglements.

What they're saying: "[H]e is surrounded by people who have a pervasive pattern of contact with the Russians, and not only contact, but contact that they're hiding," Strzok said.

  • "[L]ook at 2016. His campaign manager who pled guilty and was dealing with people affiliated with Russian intelligence services; one of his foreign policy advisers who lied to us about his connection to the Russians and pled guilty; his former national security adviser who didn't tell the truth to me and who pled guilty twice to not telling the truth about his contact with the Russians," he continued.
  • "And now obviously, with Rudy Giuliani dealing with somebody that the Department of Treasury recently said this last week had been an agent of the government of Russia in their intelligence services for over 10 years."
  • "It is not without exaggeration that there is no president in modern history who has the same broad and deep connections to any foreign intel service, let alone a hostile government like Russia."

The bottom line: Strzok said that his conclusion from the Mueller report was "absolutely not" that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election, and that Mueller's focus on criminal violations is "very, very different" from counterintelligence standards.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Dec 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's shocking wartime response

Graphic: CNN

The U.S. government, and America’s largest companies, are scrambling to understand and protect against the "grave risk" to American security from a massive hack that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo now says was a Kremlin op. President Trump's public response: Mostly silence.

Why it matters: People across the government say we've seen the mere tip of this international intrusion — a stunning, dangerous breach that requires infliction of real pain on the perpetrator, now confirmed as Russia.

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."