The FBI opened an investigation into whether President Donald Trump was working on behalf of Russia just after the Republican fired James Comey as FBI director, according to The New York Times.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the inquiry upon his appointment on May 17, 2017, just over a week after Trump fired Comey.
The Times reported that it is unclear whether Mueller is continuing that part of the investigation, which has focused mainly on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
President Trump’s actions so alarmed the FBI after James Comey’s firing that it began investigating if he was working on behalf of Russia https://t.co/3w00Xx7Bhu
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 12, 2019
It has previously been reported that Mueller and the FBI are investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice over Comey’s firing, but the counterintelligence investigation into Trump had not been disclosed until The Times scoop.
The article did not indicate whether the FBI or Mueller developed evidence that Trump was a Russian asset.
The FBI opened counterintelligence files on four separate Trump associates in late-July 2016, Comey told Congress.
Trump himself was not under investigation, though The Times reported that the senior FBI official grew concerned that the former real estate magnate was working on behalf of Russia following some of his Russia-friendly comments during the campaign.
Allegations made in the unverified Steele dossier also stoked concerns among FBI officials.
The dossier alleges that the Kremlin had blackmail material on Trump in the form of a sexually explicit video.
Trump has disputed the allegations from the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC.
The counterintelligence investigation was ultimately opened after Trump publicly discussed Comey’s firing, suggesting that it was because of the Russia probe.
That’s when the FBI decided to investigate “whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security,” according to The Times.
Trump responded to the report on Twitter:
Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
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