FBI opened probe into whether Donald Trump working for Russians

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The counterintelligence aspect consisted of determining whether Trump was knowingly or unknowingly working for Moscow and whether he was a threat to national security, the newspaper reported.

The sources noted that Trump's own admission that he fired Comey in May 2017 over his refusal to end the investigation into his campaign's possible ties to Russian Federation was one of the motivations for the probe into the president's personal ties to Moscow. The overall investigation is looking into Russian election interference and whether Trump's campaign coordinated with the Russians. The story says it is unclear whether Mueller is pursuing the counterintelligence case.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe after Comey's firing.

Mueller is believed to be investigating whether Comey's firing and other actions amount to obstruction of justice by the president.

On May 11, 2017, Trump told NBC, "when I made a decision to just do it, I said to myself, I said, 'you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story".

The Hill noted that until Giuliani's comments, speculation had centered on whether the White House might push back on some of Mueller's eventual report by citing executive privilege.

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Comey's firing, rather than ending the Russian Federation investigation, led directly to the appointment, over Trump's objections, of Mueller, another former FBI director, to take over the Russian Federation probe.

She went on to say that Trump has "actually been tough on Russian Federation", unlike former president Barack Obama.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly criticized Mueller's investigation, calling it a "witch hunt" and questioning the political motivations of his investigators.

"If the president had fired Comey to stop the Russian Federation 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 FBI general counsel until late 2017", the report said.

For one, also this week, the US attorney for the Southern District here in NY indicted Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner in Trump Tower in June 2016 to discuss acquiring dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Now, Trump said Thursday before he left for Texas that he "didn't know anything about" Manafort's dealing with Kilimnik - or the fact that his campaign chairman shared polling data with the Russian.