US News: F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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US NewsF.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia

07:05  12 january  2019
07:05  12 january  2019 Source:   msn.com

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WASHINGTON — In the days after President Trump fired James B . Comey as F . B . I . director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests

The FBI in May 2017 opened an inquiry into whether Donald Trump was working on behalf of Russia , the New York Times reports. Counterintelligence investigators were reportedly considering whether Trump ’s actions constituted a national security threat, an extraordinary line of inquiry

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia © Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock The F.B.I. investigated whether the firing of Mr. Comey was a national security threat.

WASHINGTON — In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia The investigation, whose fate is unclear, led counterintelligence investigators to consider an explosive question: whether the president’s actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence. The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice. Sign Up for the Morning Briefing Newsletter Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr.

The inquiry was launched after Trump fired former FBI director James Comey. MSNBC’s Joy Reid read Sanders’ response on the air. [email protected] responds to @nytimes report that the FBI opened an inquiry into whether Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia

that said the FBI opened an inquiry into President Donald Trump shortly after he fired FBI Director James Comey that centered on whether the showed the FBI opened a counterintelligence probe "because it had good reason to believe that Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia

The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

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Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude.

But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.

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The FBI opened an investigation into whether President Donald Trump was working on behalf of Russia just after the Republican fired James The FBI opened counterintelligence files on four separate Trump associates in late July 2016, Comey told Congress. Trump himself was not under

Federal investigators became alarmed by President Donald Trump 's behavior in the immediate aftermath of his firing in 2017 of former FBI director James Comey, and opened a probe into whether the president had been secretly working with Russia , The New York Times reported late Friday.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller’s broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them.

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit, Friday, July 7, 2017

It is unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter, and some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped in opening it.

The criminal and counterintelligence elements were coupled together into one investigation, former law enforcement officials said in interviews in recent weeks, because if Mr. Trump had ousted the head of the F.B.I. to impede or even end the Russia investigation, that was both a possible crime and a national security concern. The F.B.I.’s counterintelligence division handles national security matters.

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Trump 's behavior in the days after he fired FBI Director James Comey that they began investigating whether he had been working for Russia against U.S Trump 's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times that he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and

WASHINGTON — In the estimation of American officials, Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin, has faced credible accusations of extortion, bribery and even murder. They also thought he might make a good source.

If the president had fired Mr. Comey to stop the Russia investigation, the action would have been a national security issue because it naturally would have hurt the bureau’s effort to learn how Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Americans were involved, according to James A. Baker, who served as F.B.I. general counsel until late 2017. He privately testified in October before House investigators who were examining the F.B.I.’s handling of the full Russia inquiry.

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia © Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times Following President Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, the bureau grew increasingly concerned about whether the president’s actions constituted anti-American activity.

“Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security,” Mr. Baker said in his testimony, portions of which were read to The New York Times. Mr. Baker did not explicitly acknowledge the existence of the investigation of Mr. Trump to congressional investigators.

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Trump , who spent much of Sunday railing against the year-old special counsel probe, tweeted in the afternoon that “ I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI /DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes

The FBI in 2017 opened a secret probe into whether Donald Trump was working for Russia when he fired former director James Comey early in his Former law enforcement officials told the Times that agents and more senior FBI officials were suspicious of Trump ’s ties to Russia during his 2016

No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials. An F.B.I. spokeswoman and a spokesman for the special counsel’s office both declined to comment.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for the president, sought to play down the significance of the investigation. “The fact that it goes back a year and a half and nothing came of it that showed a breach of national security means they found nothing,” Mr. Giuliani said on Friday, though he acknowledged that he had no insight into the inquiry.

The cloud of the Russia investigation has hung over Mr. Trump since even before he took office, though he has long vigorously denied any illicit connection to Moscow. The obstruction inquiry, revealed by The Washington Post a few weeks after Mr. Mueller was appointed, represented a direct threat that he was unable to simply brush off as an overzealous examination of a handful of advisers. But few details have been made public about the counterintelligence aspect of the investigation.

The decision to investigate Mr. Trump himself was an aggressive move by F.B.I. officials who were confronting the chaotic aftermath of the firing of Mr. Comey and enduring the president’s verbal assaults on the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt.”

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After opening the Russia inquiry about a month later, they took steps, those officials said, to ensure that details of the inquiry were more closely held than Details about the informant’s relationship with the F . B . I . remain scant. It is not clear how long the relationship existed and whether the F . B . I . paid

WASHINGTON — President Trump ’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the F . B . I . about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December, becoming the first senior White House official to cut a cooperation deal in the special counsel’s

A vigorous debate has taken shape among some former law enforcement officials outside the case over whether F.B.I. investigators overreacted in opening the counterintelligence inquiry during a tumultuous period at the Justice Department. Other former officials noted that those critics were not privy to all of the evidence and argued that sitting on it would have been an abdication of duty.

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia © Getty President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House

The F.B.I. conducts two types of inquiries, criminal and counterintelligence investigations. Unlike criminal investigations, which are typically aimed at solving a crime and can result in arrests and convictions, counterintelligence inquiries are generally fact-finding missions to understand what a foreign power is doing and to stop any anti-American activity, like thefts of United States government secrets or covert efforts to influence policy. In most cases, the investigations are carried out quietly, sometimes for years. Often, they result in no arrests.

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counterintelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

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It is also unclear whether the inquiry has anything to do with an investigation into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers and other attempts to disrupt Numerous news outlets, including The New York Times, have reported on the F . B . I . investigations into Mr. Trump ’s advisers.

WASHINGTON — The F . B . I . director, James B . Comey, took the extraordinary step on Monday of announcing that the agency is investigating whether members of President Trump ’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Other factors fueled the F.B.I.’s concerns, according to the people familiar with the inquiry. Christopher Steele, a former British spy who worked as an F.B.I. informant, had compiled memos in mid-2016 containing unsubstantiated claims that Russian officials tried to obtain influence over Mr. Trump by preparing to blackmail and bribe him.

In the months before the 2016 election, the F.B.I. was also already investigating four of Mr. Trump’s associates over their ties to Russia. The constellation of events disquieted F.B.I. officials who were simultaneously watching as Russia’s campaign unfolded to undermine the presidential election by exploiting existing divisions among Americans.

“In the Russian Federation and in President Putin himself, you have an individual whose aim is to disrupt the Western alliance and whose aim is to make Western democracy more fractious in order to weaken our ability, America’s ability and the West’s ability to spread our democratic ideals,” Lisa Page, a former bureau lawyer, told House investigators in private testimony reviewed by The Times.

“That’s the goal, to make us less of a moral authority to spread democratic values,” she added. Parts of her testimony were first reported by The Epoch Times.

And when a newly inaugurated Mr. Trump sought a loyalty pledge from Mr. Comey and later asked that he end an investigation into the president’s national security adviser, the requests set off discussions among F.B.I. officials about opening an inquiry into whether Mr. Trump had tried to obstruct that case.

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia © Getty President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about border security in the briefing room of the White House But law enforcement officials put off the decision to open the investigation until they had learned more, according to people familiar with their thinking. As for a counterintelligence inquiry, they concluded that they would need strong evidence to take the sensitive step of investigating the president, and they were also concerned that the existence of such an inquiry could be leaked to the news media, undermining the entire investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election.

William Barr carefully distances himself from Trump on key issues

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In 2016, a retired American professor began working as a secret informant for the FBI as it The FBI formally opened its counterintelligence investigation into Russia 's efforts to influence the Later in 2016, Page became a surveillance target of the FBI , which suspected him of acting on behalf of the

After Mr. Comey was fired on May 9, 2017, two more of Mr. Trump’s actions prompted them to quickly abandon those reservations.

The first was a letter Mr. Trump wanted to send to Mr. Comey about his firing, but never did, in which he mentioned the Russia investigation. In the letter, Mr. Trump thanked Mr. Comey for previously telling him he was not a subject of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Even after the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, wrote a more restrained draft of the letter and told Mr. Trump that he did not have to mention the Russia investigation — Mr. Comey’s poor handling of the Clinton email investigation would suffice as a fireable offense, he explained — Mr. Trump directed Mr. Rosenstein to mention the Russia investigation anyway.

He disregarded the president’s order, irritating Mr. Trump. The president ultimately added a reference to the Russia investigation to the note he had delivered, thanking Mr. Comey for telling him three times that he was not under investigation.

The second event that troubled investigators was an NBC News interview two days after Mr. Comey’s firing in which Mr. Trump appeared to say he had dismissed Mr. Comey because of the Russia inquiry.

“I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” he said. “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Mr. Trump’s aides have said that a fuller examination of his comments demonstrates that he did not fire Mr. Comey to end the Russia inquiry. “I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people,” Mr. Trump added. “He’s the wrong man for that position.”

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia © Getty President Donald Trump speaks in the press briefing room at the White House As F.B.I. officials debated whether to open the investigation, some of them pushed to move quickly before Mr. Trump appointed a director who might slow down or even end their investigation into Russia’s interference. Many involved in the case viewed Russia as the chief threat to American democratic values.

“With respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life,” Ms. Page told investigators for a joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee investigation into Moscow’s election interference.

F.B.I. officials viewed their decision to move quickly as validated when a comment the president made to visiting Russian officials in the Oval Office shortly after he fired Mr. Comey was revealed days later.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to a document summarizing the meeting. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Follow Adam Goldman, Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos on Twitter: @adamgoldmanNYT, @nytmike and @npfandos.

William Barr carefully distances himself from Trump on key issues.
William Barr, President Donald Trump's nominee for attorney general, told a Senate panel Tuesday that he did not believe special counsel Robert S. 

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