The FBI investigation into President Trump that was opened virtually instantly after he fired then-director James B. Comey additionally included a counterintelligence element to find out if the president was looking for to assist Russia and if that’s the case, why, based on folks conversant in the matter.
The choice by then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe to open an investigation of a sitting president was a momentous step, however it got here after Trump had cited the continuing investigation into Russian interference within the 2016 election in his resolution to fireside Comey, these folks stated.
The counterintelligence element of the Trump investigation was first reported by the New York Times.
Trump responded Saturday morning on Twitter, blasting former FBI leaders, criticizing their dealing with of an earlier investigation into Hillary Clinton and ripping the continuing Russia probe. Trump has repeatedly denounced the FBI and Justice Division in such harsh phrases, underscoring the gulf between the White Home and the nation’s prime regulation enforcement companies in his administration.
“The corrupt former leaders of the FBI, virtually all fired or pressured to depart the company for some very unhealthy causes, opened up an investigation on me, for no cause & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a complete sleaze!” the president tweeted. “My firing of James B. Comey was a terrific day for America. He was a Crooked Cop.”
Counterintelligence investigations are totally different than prison probes, in that their chief function is to know what a overseas adversary like Russia is attempting to do to affect American society or counteract U.S. insurance policies, and if any People are aiding in these efforts, both knowingly or unwittingly.
Within the case of the investigation into Trump, the FBI’s resolution to open a file on the president so shortly after Comey’s firing in Could 2017 was a supply of concern for some officers on the Justice Division as a result of the FBI acted with out first consulting management on the division. However these worries had been allayed when, days later, particular counsel Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to supervise the Russia probe, based on folks conversant in the matter who spoke on the situation of anonymity to debate delicate inside deliberations.
On the time the FBI started instantly investigating Trump, they wished to know if he was making an attempt to hinder justice by firing Comey, and perceive the explanations for his conduct, which additionally included feedback in an NBC interview two days after Comey’s dismissal.
In that interview, Trump stated, “once I determined to simply do it, I stated to myself — I stated, you already know, this Russia factor with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
Along with that assertion, prime bureau officers had been additionally involved a few draft letter to Comey that Trump had wished to ship however by no means did and whose tone was belligerent and defensive, and made repeated references to Comey’s personal statements to Trump that he wasn’t personally beneath investigation within the Russia probe, based on folks conversant in the matter.
“The FBI sees [these actions] and it has two jobs — it must attempt to determine why the individual is behaving that manner, that’s the counterintelligence half, and it must suss out whether or not that conduct is prison in nature,” stated one official. “It’s arduous to overstate how devastated the management of the bureau was when Comey was fired — not as a result of they cherished him, though many within the FBI did love him — however as a result of it fully broke so many norms and gave the impression to be a transfer that had nothing to do with Comey and all the things to do with the president’s personal pursuits.”
The official stated that the counterintelligence and prison inquiries had been at all times linked.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a member of the Home Intelligence Committee, stated the revelations are disturbing. “Lots of the conduct which has despatched folks to jail — largely about mendacity about Russia — occurred previous to the firing of Comey,” he stated in an interview. “So if the FBI had issues that the president was wittingly or unwittingly appearing within the Russians’ pursuits as late because the firing of Jim Comey, that’s a fairly scary thought — particularly since we don’t know what else they [the investigators] know.”
He added that, “the FBI opening any investigation is a extremely documented, well-considered and well-reviewed course of. This one would have been significantly fastidiously undertaken.”