After President Trump fired former FBI director James Comey in May 2017, the FBI opened an investigation into whether Trump was secretly “working on behalf of Russia against American interests,” the New York Times reports.
Details: Intelligence officials had their concerns about Trump‘s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign, but held off on opening an investigation because of the sensitive and potentially explosive implications that it came with. It was only after Trump twice tied the firing of Comey to his desire to put an end to the Russia investigation that officials decided to launch an inquiry into “whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security,” per the Times.
- The investigation had both a counterintelligence and criminal aspect to it — with the criminal question being whether he had obstructed justice by firing Comey, per the Times. The probe has since been handed off to special counsel Robert Mueller.
- The aggressive move to investigate Trump reportedly set off “a vigorous debate” within the Justice Department over whether FBI agents overreacted by opening the counterintelligence probe.