Peter Strzok, former FBI counterintelligence director, was on Morning Joe today to plug his new book.
Willie Geist got right to the point.
"There are people, including, by the way, prominent members of the intelligence community, former, who have suggested that Donald Trump is a, quote, 'asset' of Russia. Do you believe that's true? That sounds extreme to a lot of people but do you believe in some way Vladimir Putin has so much leverage over Donald trump that he is a, quote, 'asset'?"
"Look, I recruited spies for two decades. What that looks like varies," he said.
"On one end, you can have somebody who fully knows they're working for you, they're taking tasking and going to do every single last thing you say. On the other end, there's somebody who doesn't even realize they're working with the United States government. I think the truth with President Trump lies in the middle. Do I think he's a Manchurian candidate? I don't. Do I think he's doing things that are not in the national security interests of the United States because Russia is holding things over him that he does not want known? Absolutely. If you step back, if you look at that as a patriot, as an American citizen, it's horrifying. But it's exists, it's real and something every American should be concerned about."
"Are the things you're saying Russia holds over him, in your words, is that just a hotel or other things you can't say publicly?" Geist said.
"I think it's fair to say within the context of what I can and can't say, his financial involvement with Russia and all of his business dealings are very broad. There exists within that multiple opportunities, not just multiple hotel deals but between real estate holdings, licensing opportunities, beyond just simple donations potentially to his campaign. There are a variety of entanglements that he holds, without getting into classified detail, are of great concern and present prime opportunities for leverage over the president."
Jonathan Lemire had a question.
"Peter, as you well know, when President Putin was asked if they had any compromising material on President Trump or his family, that question in Helsinki, he didn't give a no to that. I want to ask you about Robert Mueller's investigation, for which you were part of for a time. You mentioned here in great detail the business dealings of the president and you've written in your book you felt a broad-based, deep investigation was needed into the president's business dealings.
"Mountains of financial records would need to be sifted through and pored over. But can you, as you see the finished product, as you've examined what Robert Mueller and his team were doing after you were removed from the investigation, do you feel like that has happened? Was the work done that was needed to really examine the president's financial dealings?" Lemire said.
Strzok said he suspects it wasn't.
"Look, Director Mueller and the scope of his work within the special counsel's office was never going to touch on the counterintelligence aspects of that investigation. When you look at the recent bipartisan Senate Intelligence report, almost 1,000 pages signed off on by both Republican and Democratic senators, it's clear there is a pervasive counterintelligence problem surrounding Trump's campaign and his administration. To do that effectively, to understand that, would need to go back decades and would have to, as you know, very detailed in looking at those financial transactions.
"Could the FBI be doing that? Absolutely, they could. If they were, I would have -- I would expect it would be quiet, classified, you wouldn't hear about it. At the same time, given the way Trump has fought tooth and nail to avoid releasing anything about his financial truth, I would expect had anybody in the government attempted to go after the financial records, we would have heard about it in the press. He would have been fighting about it, he would have been taking it to court.
"The fact we haven't heard anything like that gives me some concern that that sort of deep look never took place."