The FBI investigated the possibility that Donald Trump is a Russian agent – ThinkProgress

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For months, the general public has identified about Donald Trump’s intensive ties with people inside and adjoining to the Russian authorities. A handful of his closest aides have already testified underneath oath about their connections to Russian officers, and his personal lawyer has admitted Trump had shut monetary ties to Moscow as just lately as the center of 2016.

However on Friday night, an explosive report within the New York Occasions escalated the scope of particular counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation to an nearly unimaginable diploma: in 2017, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Donald Trump himself, out of concern that the president of the US was secretly engaged on behalf of Russia.

The Occasions spoke with a number of former intelligence officers in regards to the inquiry, which started shortly after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The circumstances of Comey’s dismissal have been identified to be of curiosity to the particular counsel’s workplace, which is trying into whether or not Trump tried to impede justice by firing the particular person liable for overseeing the whole Russia investigation. However till Friday, the general public was unaware of simply how significantly the intelligence group seen Comey’s abrupt departure.

True to type, Trump responded to the revelation through Twitter, portray the investigation as a “Witch Hunt” and lying about his own record on Russia. He instructed he has been powerful on Moscow, as a substitute of leaking state secrets and techniques to Russian brokers and doing their bidding in Syria, to call only a few examples.

FBI curiosity in Trump’s ties to Russia predated his presidency. The company was already conserving tabs on a number of Trump marketing campaign officers, together with his marketing campaign supervisor Paul Manafort. And intelligence officers have been additionally probing the extent to which Russian officers tried to intrude within the 2016 presidential marketing campaign, prompted partly by Trump himself, who publicly known as on Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

However the company was hesitant to open a proper investigation into Trump, aware of how delicate an investigation right into a sitting president could be — to say nothing of what the response could be if the existence of such an investigation have been leaked.

In line with The Occasions, the way through which Comey was fired and the admission by Trump that the firing was an try and disrupt or disband the Russian inquiry was sufficient to greenlight the counterintelligence operation. Inside days, it was folded into Robert Mueller’s bigger investigation. The Occasions gave no indication that the particular counsel ever closed the counterintelligence portion of its investigation.

The priority by the company coalesced round two equally jarring potentialities: that Donald Trump was appearing on behalf of Russia, both willingly or on account of blackmail; and that Trump posed a nationwide safety threat to the US by attempting to finish the company’s probe into Russian interference.

Whether or not or not the FBI discovered exhausting proof to justify their issues, the notion that there was sufficient suspicion to launch a counterintelligence operation on a sitting US president is as astonishing as it’s unsettling.

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