Federal Bureau of Investigation opened probe into whether Trump working for Russians

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump dance at the Freedom Ball in Washington DC

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump dance at the Freedom Ball in Washington DC

FBI agents and senior officials began to suspect connections between Trump and Russian Federation during the 2016 campaign but pushed off an investigation partially because they were unsure how to execute such a massive and sensitive operation, sources told the Times.

Sean Spicer blasted a new report Saturday of a secret FBI investigation into whether President Trump was working on behalf of Russian Federation shortly after he fired former director James Comey.

Citing unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation, the NYT reported that Trump's firing of Comey triggered an FBI inquiry into whether the President had been secretly working for Russian Federation against US interests.

Counterintelligence investigators were reportedly considering whether Trump's actions constituted a national security threat, an extraordinary line of inquiry against a sitting United States president.

But they did not launch an investigation at that time because they were not sure how to approach such a sensitive and important probe, according to the sources.

The report also raises questions about whether Comey was being entirely truthful when he testified to Congress in December that Trump wasn't among the "four Americans" targeted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation counterintelligence probe into Russian meddling.

Experts immediately reflected on the landmark nature of the story, coming as it has after two years of reporting about Trump associates' interactions with Russians and their attempts to cover them up; Trump's solicitous behavior toward Putin, despite the USA intelligence community's assessment that Russian hackers, under Putin's direction, had interfered in the 2016 election; and Trump's repeated public rejections of that assessment, including his refusal to implement sanctions against Russia that were near-unanimously passed by Congress.

According to Trump, "the FBI was in complete turmoil ... because of Comey's poor leadership" and the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private server to send some government emails.

At this point in the campaign, there were two key developments: Mr. Trump had made it clear he wanted better relations with Russia President Vladimir Putin, praising the autocratic leader at times.

Rudolph Giuliani, one of Trump's attorneys, also sought to downplay the significance of the investigation.

Cell phone records show that Cohen was near Prague during the summer of 2016, supporting claims that he met there with Russian officials during the presidential election campaign, McClatchy news service has reported.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the Times' report "absurd" and said Mr Comey was sacked for being "a disgraced partisan hack".

"Those require the highest levels of approval from the Department of Justice", Campbell told CNN.

What did the FBI supposedly investigate?

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