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FBI investigated President Trump for possible secret Russian favors, reports say

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President Donald Trump is claiming that no American president has been as “tough” on Russia as he has been, amid ongoing criticism of his Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (July 18)
AP

Federal counterintelligence agents began an investigation of Donald Trump last year that aimed to find out whether the president had a clandestine agenda to help Russia, the New York Times and CNN reported Friday.

The revelation, which the White House called “absurd” in a late-evening statement, suggests that the FBI felt Trump’s firing of director James B. Comey in May 2017 was motivated by Russian interests and might constitute a threat to U.S. national security, the Times reported.

While the allegation of Trump’s possible collusion with the Russian government has been raised before, to date there has been no evidence. 

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for the president, was quoted by the Times as saying that the investigation seems to have gone nowhere. “The fact that it goes back a year and a half and nothing came of it that showed a breach of national security means they found nothing,” Giuliani said on Friday.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Comey was fired for just cause and that Trump has never favored Russia.

“This is absurd. James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI. Unlike President Obama, who let Russia and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russia.”

More: Trump’s team had over 100 contacts with Russian-linked officials, according to think tank analysis

Related: Robert Mueller grand jury gets more time; judge extends 18-month term set to expire in coming days

Exclusive: James Comey strikes back against ‘morally unfit’ Donald Trump in scathing interview

The Times and CNN reports both cite unnamed sources. 

The decision to investigate Trump himself was an aggressive move by FBI officials who were confronting the chaotic aftermath of the firing of Mr. Comey and enduring the president’s verbal assaults on the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt,” the Times reported.

CNN reported that counterintelligence agents were investigating why Trump was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia. 

The obstruction probe was an idea the FBI had previously considered, but it didn’t start until Comey was fired, CNN reported. The justification went beyond Trump’s firing of Comey, CNN said, according to its sources, and included the President’s conversation with Comey in the Oval Office asking him to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump insisted last year that he didn’t fire FBI Director James Comey because of the Russia investigation, despite video and documentary evidence to the contrary, according to several USA TODAY stories at the time.

“Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” Trump tweeted shortly after the firing. “The Corrupt Mainstream Media loves to keep pushing that narrative, but they know it is not true!”

The FBI director’s firing is central to an obstruction of justice investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also looking into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election in order to help Trump.

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President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Also pictured, from left, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. On Saturday, President Trump is making several phone calls with world leaders from Japan, Germany, Russia, France and Australia. Drew Angerer, Getty Images

  • President Donald Trump, right, looks at Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they take place for a family photo, during the G20 Leaders' Summit in Buenos Aires, on Nov. 30, 2018. Global leaders gather in the Argentine capital for a two-day G20 summit beginning on Friday likely to be dominated by simmering international tensions over trade.1 of 15
  • President Donald J. Trump looks toward   Russian President Vladimir Putin as the attend the international ceremony for the Centenary of the WWI Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918 at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, France on Nov. 11, 2018. Heads of State and Government commemorate their fallen soldiers in France.2 of 15
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center,  and US President Donald Trump as they attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Nov. 11, 2018 as part of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the November 11, 1918 armistice, ending World War I.3 of 15
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  • US President Donald Trump, left, chats with Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they attend the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on Nov. 11, 2017.6 of 15
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  • US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, pose for a photograph at the beginning of a one-on-one meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018.11 of 15
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and  US President Donald J. Trump shake hands  as First Lady Melania Trump looks on during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland on July 16, 2018. 12 of 15
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  • President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office of the White House, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Also pictured, from left, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. On Saturday, President Trump is making several phone calls with world leaders from Japan, Germany, Russia, France and Australia. 15 of 15

 

 

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