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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.

3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."