FBI launched probe against Trump after Comey’s firing, says report
FBI investigators, who had watched Candidate Trump’s Russia remarks with some alarm, were now concerned by President Trump’s attempts to link agency chief James Comey’s firing to the Russia probe in a note and an interview to NBC News.Updated: Jan 13, 2019 00:33 IST
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had launched an investigation against President Donald Trump to find if he was working on behalf of the Russians in the days after he fired the then director of the agency, James Comey, in May 2017, according to a report by The New York Times.
FBI investigators, who had watched Candidate Trump’s Russia remarks with some alarm, were now concerned by President Trump’s attempts to link Comey’s firing to the Russia probe in a note and an interview to NBC News.
The New York Times reported that the FBI investigation had two components. One was a counter-intelligence investigation t determine if the president was working on behalf of Russians or was under their influence. And the second component was a criminal investigation of obstruction of justice to determine if by firing Comey, the president had tried to prevent or stop the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the investigation after his appointment by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein just days later. The Times said it was not clear if Mueller is pursing the counter-intelligence component as well. His brief is to investigate the Russian interference, any collusion by members of Trump’s campaign, and “any other matters”.
President Trump pushed back in a string of tweets Saturday morning, in which he defended Comey’s firing, attacked the then FBI leaders and top investigators, who have since been fired from the agency, and said the FBI had “opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof”.
He went on to attack the probe by Mueller’s office as a witch hunt, as has many times before, and claimed that “maybe” no other US president has been tougher on Russia than him.
Mueller’s team has handed out several indictments and jail sentences but none for any direct link to the Russian interference, for which Russian intelligence and entities are under indictment. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort appears to have come closest to being accused of alleged collusion when his lawyers accidentally revealed past week he had passed on the campaign’s polling data to a Russian man with links to Russian intelligence.
First Published: Jan 12, 2019 20:42 IST