FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference

FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference
© Greg Nash

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday dismissed conspiracy theories pushed by allies of President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE — including some Republican members of Congress — that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

Wray said in an interview with ABC News that Russian agents represented the clearest threat both in 2016 and in the upcoming presidential election next year.

“We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election,” Wray told ABC.

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"As far as the [2020] election itself goes, we think Russia represents the most significant threat," he continued.

Wray's remarks come as senators including John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMatthew McConaughey on potential political run: 'I'm measuring it' Professor tells Cruz that Texas's voter ID law is racist Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks MORE (R-Texas) have suggested that Ukraine may have been involved in efforts on behalf of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE in 2016 during the presidential election, accusations which have been roundly dismissed by the intelligence community.

The unfounded accusation of supposed Ukrainian election meddling comes as allies of the president have sought to offer explanations for Trump's July phone call with Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump appeared to press Zelensky to open criminal investigations into that interference, as well as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe House passes sweeping defense policy bill MORE (D), a top 2020 candidate, and his son Hunter.

Democrats have argued that the call, which has become the centerpiece of the House's impeachment inquiry, represented a solicitation directly from Trump for foreign assistance in a presidential election.

Wray's Monday interview came the same day the Department of Justice's inspector general released its long-awaited report on the origins of the FBI's investigations into Trump campaign associates in 2016. 

Wray told ABC News that it is "important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization."

His comments also came hours after GOP counsel Stephen Castor said both Russia and Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.