Trump Russia: FBI probed whether Trump was working for Moscow

Amid probes White House lawyers prepare defense of Trump’s executive privilege

Former law enforcement officials told The New York Times that following the president's firing of then-FBI director James Comey, law enforcement officials, "became so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russian Federation against American interests". In addition to the Comey dismissal in May 2017, the President had raised concern in the Federal Bureau of Investigation for comments he made to Russian officials in the Oval Office about firing his Federal Bureau of Investigation director, according to the source familiar with the matter.

Mr Trump's behaviour in the days around Mr Comey's May 2017 firing, specifically two instances in which he seemed to tie Mr Comey's ousting to the Russian Federation investigation, helped trigger the counterintelligence part of the investigation, according to the Times' sources.

"The idea that's contained in the New York Times story that President Trump was a threat to American national security is silly on its face and not worthy of a response", he added. "Everybody wanted him fired, Republican and Democrat alike", Trump continued.

In the string of tweets on Saturday morning, Trump accused Comey of "rigging" and "botching" the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, and said that his "poor leadership" of the Clinton case put the FBI "in complete turmoil".

According to the New York Times, top FBI officials had already grown suspicious of Trump during the campaign but at first balked at starting a counterintelligence investigation, in part because they were "uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude".

"Funny thing about James Comey".

Mr Mueller was appointed within days of Mr Comey's firing.

The counterintelligence angle comprised of deciding if Trump was intentionally or unconsciously working for Moscow and whether he was a danger to national security, the paper revealed.

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russian Federation engaged in a campaign of hacking and propaganda to sway voters during the 2016 election, largely aimed at bolstering Trump's chances at the presidency.

In a statement Friday night, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the Times story "absurd".

In its report Friday citing unnamed former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation, The New York Times said officials considered both the possibility that the president was knowingly assisting Moscow and that he had unknowingly come under its influence.

Shortly after Comey was sacked, special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to oversee the broader investigation into Russian Federation and the election.

All have been frequent targets by right-wing media outlets that claim that the so-called "deep state" to working to undermine Trump's presidency. The FBI, however, apparently felt vindicated after Trump remarked that Comey's firing had helped relieve Russia-related political pressure.

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