FBI agents opened a counterintelligence investigation in May 2017 to see if President Trump was working “on behalf of Russia against American interests” after he fired FBI director James Comey, reports the New York Times.
Trump responded with his usual vitriol on Twitter:
Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2019
Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania defended the decision of the FBI to open an investigation into Trump on CNN:
Two things you want to look for there. I haven’t seen the New York Times story yet. But there are assessments and preliminary inquiries, which have limited scope and full field investigations.
That’s the first thing. The second thing is, any time an investigation is opened on an elected official, member of the media, member of the clergy, they are put in a sort of a separate category called SINS, sensitive investigations that require the highest level of approval.
In this case, it would have been, in all likelihood, the deputy director at the time, Andy McCabe and requires coordination with the DOJ and the deputy attorney general, at which point it would have been Rod Rosenstein. So it sort of raises more questions.
Former FBI agents and Department of Justice insiders said the White House’s protestations that the investigation was “absurd” are far from the truth, with one admitting it was based on “serious and substantial evidence,” notes the Daily Beast.
“This is uncharted territory,” explained Ali Soufan, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. “I don’t believe that it had happened before… Ever.”
“It would be most likely that the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ signed off on the investigation,” former agent Mike German confirmed before adding, “Of course, with the U.S. president as a subject, the threshold would be much higher than normal.”