In Summary
  • The investigation was launched after the president fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017.
  • The FBI investigation was soon folded into Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 vote and possible collusion between his campaign and Moscow.

WASHINGTON

The Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an inquiry in 2017 into whether US President Donald Trump was working on behalf of Russia, The New York Times has reported.

The investigation -- a dual counterintelligence and criminal probe -- was launched after the president fired FBI director James Comey in May 2017, the Times said, citing anonymous sources.

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.

It added the criminal portion related to Trump's firing of Comey.

The FBI investigation was soon folded into Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 vote and possible collusion between his campaign and Moscow, it said, adding that it was unclear if the counterintelligence aspect was still being pursued.

2016 CAMPAIGN

The Times said that the FBI had been suspicious of Trump's ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign.

But it held off on opening an investigation until the president sacked Comey, who refused to swear his allegiance and roll back the nascent Russia investigation, which is now being spearheaded by Mueller.

Trump has repeatedly criticized the Mueller investigation as a "witch hunt" and views it as a stain on the legitimacy of his presidency.

But while Trump has slammed the probe as baseless, Mueller has issued dozens of indictments and steadily chalked up convictions of some of the president's close associates -- including his former national security advisor, his former personal lawyer, and his ex-campaign chief.

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