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

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It’s no secret that Donald Trump shot himself in the foot the day he fired James Comey, at son-in-law Jared’s behest, and with a Jarvanka-compromised Steve Bannon screaming “don’t” in the background. In a breaking news story, the New York Times says that in the days following Comey’s firing, agents and senior FBI officials began investigating whether Trump was actually in the employ of Russia, or if he had just been beguiled by Putin. They opened up an investigation to find out. New York 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 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.

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. 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. […]

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.

Praising Vladimir Putin on the campaign trail and calling upon Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails was not a good move. That, coupled with asking James Comey for a pledge of loyalty and asking him to stop investigating Michael Flynn, just made things worse. You remember Trump’s words after firing Comey, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. Now that’s taken off.” Wrong again, Donnie. Too bad you don’t know how government really works, but you’re about to get a very profound tutorial on the subject.

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[cross-posted to PolitiZoom]

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