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Report: FBI looking into ex-Trump campaign manager Manafort's foreign business ties

FILE - In this July 17, 2016 file photo, Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena, Sunday, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON (AP/SBG) - The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee says FBI Director James Comey should tell Congress and the public whether his agency is investigating Donald Trump's former campaign manager about possible ties to Russian interests.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland said in a statement Monday that Democrats have been seeking an investigation into former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been linked to pro-Kremlin elements in Russia and Ukraine.

Democrats have been criticizing Comey for revealing Friday, just 11 days before the election, that the FBI was looking into newly discovered emails that may be pertinent to their dormant investigation of Hillary Clinton.

Cummings says Comey's action could damage the FBI's credibility. He said its standing could be further damaged if the FBI investigated Manafort but kept that secret.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Sunday penned a letter to Comey, in which he stated:

"The double standard established by your actions is clear.
"In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government - a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information."

On Monday, NBC News reported the FBI has been "conducting a preliminary inquiry into Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort's foreign business connections."

Manafort refuted the claim, telling NBC News, "None of it is true ... There's no investigation going on by the FBI that I'm aware of."

He added, "This is all political propaganda, meant to deflect."

NBC News reports the FBI gave no comment.

Slate reported Monday that computer scientists had uncovered communications between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. The article states, "It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank."

The Clinton campaign released a statement Monday evening condemning the report that says, in part, "This line of communication may help explain Trump's bizarre adoration of Vladimir Putin and endorsement of so many pro-Kremlin positions throughout this campaign."

Read the full statement below:

“This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow. Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.
"This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump's ties to Russia. It certainly seems the Trump Organization felt it had something to hide, given that it apparently took steps to conceal the link when it was discovered by journalists.
"This line of communication may help explain Trump's bizarre adoration of Vladimir Putin and endorsement of so many pro-Kremlin positions throughout this campaign. It raises even more troubling questions in light of Russia's masterminding of hacking efforts that are clearly intended to hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign. We can only assume that federal authorities will now explore this direct connection between Trump and Russia as part of their existing probe into Russia's meddling in our elections."

The New York Times reported Monday, "Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government," but added, "The FBI’s inquiries into Russia’s possible role continue."


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