The president of the United States, Donald Trump, was the target of a counterintelligence investigation in 2017 to determine whether he was acting on behalf of the Russian government and posed a national security threat to the United States.
Any rational observer has long wondered where Trump’s loyalties really lie, but a new report in The New York Times has confirmed the extraordinary revelation that the FBI and senior justice officials were so concerned that they decided to open a national security inquiry of a sitting U.S. president.
According to the Times:
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 [former FBI Director James] 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.
Retired FBI counterterrorism special agent Ali Soufan told The Daily Beast that this type of investigation is unprecedented in U.S. history. “This is uncharted territory,” he told the news site. “I don’t believe that it had happened before… Ever.”
Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman called the revelation “mind-blowing,” adding that it would be the “political scandal of all time,” according to The Daily Beast. In other words, it would be yuuuge.
Shortly after the probe was launched, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate Russia’s attack on U.S. elections in 2016 and any possible ties to the Trump campaign. Mueller would have had access to any of the potential evidence uncovered by the FBI.
As the Times noted, few details have emerged of the counterintelligence investigation of Trump, which goes beyond the allegations that Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey and then attempted to thwart the Mueller probe. However, these types of investigations often take years to conduct and infrequently result in arrests, the newspaper added.
Per the report:
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.
Other red flags included Trump asking Russia during a 2016 news conference to hack opponent Hillary Clinton’s emails, his cozy stance on Vladimir Putin, and the changing of the Republican Party’s convention platform on Ukraine. Added to that was the now infamous dossier on Trump and the election compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Trump responded to the report on Saturday with a fury of tweets accusing the FBI of corruption.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
He continued ranting in several more tweets with a word salad of allegations against “Crooked Hillary Clinton,” “Bob Mueller, & the 13 Angry Democrats,” and “Crooked Cop” Comey, among others.
In a statement reported by The Daily Beast, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders reacted by saying, “Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”