WASHINGTON — President Trump asserted on Thursday that federal investigators attempted to infiltrate his 2016 campaign with a confidential informant — a scandalous overreach, he said, that would be “bigger than Watergate!”
In some sense, many analysts have said, he is right: Efforts by a hostile foreign power to influence an American presidential election — with or without the assistance or knowledge of the winning candidate — may well be a scandal “bigger than Watergate!”
The F.B.I. and a team of special prosecutors are investigating whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates were coordinating with Russia to help Mr. Trump defeat his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. And, since the appointment of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, the investigation has expanded to include inquiries into whether Mr. Trump has attempted to obstruct justice to bring an end to what he regularly calls a witch hunt.
Thursday is the first anniversary of Mr. Mueller’s appointment. Since then, Mr. Trump has considered firing Mr. Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein — drawing parallels to the Watergate investigation more than four decades earlier, when Richard M. Nixon, ordered his attorney general and deputy attorney general to fire the special prosecutor investigating abuses in the 1972 presidential election. Both Justice Department officials resigned rather than carrying out the order.
In the first year of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, he has brought dozens of criminal charges against former associates of Mr. Trump as well as Russians and Russian companies involved in the influence campaign.
Mr. Trump also mentioned the use of a confidential informant. At least one government informant met several times with two of Mr. Trump’s former campaign aides, officials have said.
In an earlier Twitter post on Thursday, Mr. Trump repeated his assertion that the investigation was “the greatest Witch Hunt in American History.”