The FBI has opened an investigation into possible Russian efforts to influence the US presidential election, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
The move follows an announcement by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates that the US government would not defend the integrity of the election, citing a concern that Russia was trying to influence public opinion.
Yates, the former acting attorney general, said the US would not take a position in the election until after it had verified that Russian President Vladimir Putin had not interfered in the vote.
Yate’s warning, which came just days after former FBI Director James Comey said the Trump campaign had been colluding with Russia, came amid a flurry of reports about possible ties between Russia and the Trump team.
Comey, a former FBI director, told Congress that he had written to then-President Donald Trump to warn him of possible Russian attempts to meddle in the 2016 election.
The former director testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.
The committee has called for an independent investigation into Russian interference and whether there was any coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.
Yale also wrote that Russia may have interfered in US election, but that it had “nothing to do with our election.”
In a letter to President Trump, Yates warned that “the integrity of this election cannot be questioned” if the FBI does not “immediately move to defend the election from any interference by the Russian government or its proxies.”
Yates also said she could not assure Congress that there would be no interference.
The FBI would “work diligently” to ensure that any investigations were conducted “with the full cooperation of Congress and the American people,” Yates said in her letter.
Yatsos letter was first reported by the Washington Post.
A source familiar with Yates’ statement told CNN that the FBI was not in a position to provide any comment at this time.
“It is not appropriate to comment on ongoing investigations,” a statement from the FBI said.
Yations letter also raised questions about what role the Trump administration might have played in deciding not to pursue charges against Russia.YATES WARNED US TO ASSURE OUR VOTERS THAT THERE WAS NO INTERFERENCE Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told reporters in St. Petersburg that he thought the FBI investigation was premature.
“It’s a matter for the US,” Medvedav said.
Medvedavev said that if the US pursued charges, it would have to do so independently, according to a transcript of his interview on state-owned television channel Russia 24.
Yakov Kubashev, the deputy head of the Russian Federation’s electoral commission, said in an interview on Russian state television that “if the US has not done something, it is an action against Russia.”
The FBI, meanwhile, has issued a statement that Yates wrote to Trump “concerned about the interference in the US election and a need to protect the integrity and sovereignty of our electoral process.”
In the letter, Yates told Trump that “our election process was already compromised” because “the election was not transparent,” and that “a deliberate effort to manipulate public opinion is a serious threat to our democracy.”
Yate also said that “it is our hope that President-elect Trump will act swiftly to safeguard our electoral system.”YATES SAYS US WILL NOT BE ASSOCIATED WITH ‘RUSSIAN PERSECUTIONERS’In her letter to Trump, which was released Tuesday morning, Yates wrote that the Department of Justice has been informed by U.S. intelligence that the Russian Government directed the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The letter also said “the United States will not be associated with any ‘russian retribution’ that would undermine our democratic process.”