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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

Nov 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump with Michael Flynn in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a former Russian ambassador.

Why it matters: It is the first of multiple pardons expected in the coming weeks, as Axios scooped Tuesday night.

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group of senators seeks coronavirus stimulus deal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

At least eight Republican and Democratic senators have formed an informal working group aimed at securing new coronavirus spending during the lame-duck session, a move favored by President-elect Biden, two sources familiar with the group tell Axios.

Why it matters: It may be the most significant bipartisan step toward COVID relief in months.

FCC chairman to depart in January

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Ajit Pai will leave his post as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Jan. 20, the agency said today.

Why it matters: Pai's Inauguration Day departure is in keeping with agency tradition, and could set up the Biden administration with a 2-1 Democratic majority at the FCC if the Senate fails to confirm another Trump nominee during the lame-duck period.