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Russia might have provoked Comey's controversial announcement about the Clinton email probe with a fake intelligence report

A Russian intelligence document written off by many in the FBI as untrustworthy might have spurred then-Director James Comey to make his infamous public announcement about the Hillary Clinton email investigation last summer, The Washington Post reports. Last July, Comey announced he would not recommend charges against Clinton related to the probe into her use of a private email server, without first notifying the Justice Department.

The Russian document "mentioned a supposed email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter — a conversation that if made public would cast doubt on the inquiry's integrity," the Post writes. Officials say Comey felt he had "little choice … because he feared that if Lynch announced no charges against Clinton, and then the secret document leaked, the legitimacy of the entire case would be questioned."

On July 5, without talking to Lynch, Comey publicly closed the Clinton case while recommending no charges.

The people named in the Russian intelligence document, including Lynch, then-chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Leonard Benardo of the George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations, said they did not know each other and had never met. "I've never in my lifetime received any correspondence of any variety — correspondence, fax, telephone — from Debbie Wasserman Schultz," Benardo said. "If such documentation exists, it's of course made up."

Russia expert Matt Rojansky has a theory: "The idea that Russians would tell a story in which the Clinton campaign, Soros, and even an Obama administration official are connected ... is not at all surprising," he said. "That is part of the Kremlin worldview."

Several officials told the Post that they were "concerned that revealing details now about the document could be perceived as an effort to justify Trump's decision to fire Comey, but they argued that the document and Comey's firing are distinct issues." Read the entire scoop at The Washington Post.