- By Ruby MellenRuby Mellen is a fellow at Foreign Policy with a background in TV, print, and digital journalism. Before coming to FP, she covered the 2016 election as a news associate at CNN in Washington, D.C., working on State of the Union with Jake Tapper. Prior to that, she was a politics fellow at the Huffington Post. She was born in New York and is a dual citizen of Belgium and the United States.
Nigel Farage has had a bad couple of months. He separated from his wife, he’s apparently low on cash, and now reports suggest he’s a person of interest in the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump campaign operatives colluded with Russia to swing the U.S. presidential election.
The Guardian reported Thursday that while the FBI is neither accusing Farage of any wrongdoing nor naming him a suspect in the investigation, Farage’s close relationships with other players linked to President Donald Trump and the Russia probe — including Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, and Trump confidant Roger Stone — have sparked the interest of investigators in the bureau.
“If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage,” the Guardian quoted one source as saying.
Farage denied the allegations with gusto, claiming on Twitter that it took him so long to read the article because he was “laughing so much at this fake news” and calling the report a “hysterical attempt” resulting from the “liberal elite being unable to accept Brexit and Trump.”
The former leader of the U.K. Independence Party (Ukip), who led the successful campaign for the country to leave the EU, has long shared a relationship with Trump and his allies, as well as Assange, whose decision to publish thousands of hacked emails from the Clinton campaign has been credited with factoring into Trump’s surprising November win.
Farage has praised the Wikileaks founder, and even visited him at the Ecuadorian embassy in London — where he is hiding from extradition — in March. Farage later told a German newspaper he had been visiting Assange for “journalistic reasons,” not political ones.
Additionally, the Brexit cheerleader has kept close ties to operatives associated with Trump’s campaign.
He praised Bannon, the former CEO of Breitbart News, for the site’s positive coverage of Brexit, and has reportedly brushed arms with the hollywood-producer-turned-right-wing-visionary as far back as 2012. Additionally, the FBI told the Guardian they are interested by Farage’s relationship with Stone, whose ties to Russia are also under investigation by the agency and who publicly praised Assange as his “hero” during the campaign.
Farage has also kept close to Trump himself. He attended the Republican National Convention in August and was one of the first foreign figures to pay a visit to the new president-elect at Trump Tower in November. Trump even once tweeted that Farage should be the U.K. ambassador to the United States, a suggestion which was immediately shot down. Farage, like Trump, has also outwardly expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But while he may run in the same circles as the key players in the FBI’s investigation, Farage strongly denies any ties to Russia whatsoever, claiming not only did he do nothing wrong, but he finds it “extremely doubtful” the report itself is true.
Photo credit: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images