The probe began after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and investigators were asked to find out if the president could be secretly working on behalf of Russian Federation and was a threat to the USA, reported the New York Times. However, the FBI reportedly grew extremely concerned after Comey's firing as Trump himself seemed to hint that the director was let go due to the Russian investigation. Agents also sought to determine whether Trump was knowingly working for Russian Federation or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence.
The Russia investigation was taken over by Mueller when he was appointed special counsel.
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The Times also reported that "some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped" in opening an investigation into that angle. Apparently, the bureau's knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting, and Trump's July 2016 press conference request - "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing - wasn't enough to pull the trigger on an inquiry".
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The president's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said that nothing came out of the investigation, but admitted that he did not know much about it. Baker privately testified in October before House investigators who were examining the FBI's handling of the full Russian Federation inquiry, it said. But the evidence so far shows a broad range of Trump associates had Russia-related contacts during the 2016 presidential campaign and transition period, and several lied about the communication.
The investigation was one part criminal, into possible obstruction of justice, and one part counterintelligence, looking into possible national security concerns, the Times reports.
During the campaign, FBI officials were troubled by Trump's ties to Russia, and opened an investigation into the campaign in August 2016, two months after the Trump Tower meeting between campaign senior officials and Russian surrogates.
Cohen and Flynn have both been convicted for various crimes as part of the Russian Federation probe and have both offered evidence potentially damaging to their former boss. "Unlike President Obama, who let Russian Federation and other foreign adversaries push America around, President Trump has actually been tough on Russian Federation", said press secretary Sarah Huchabee Sanders. He did not explicitly acknowledge the existence of the investigation of Trump to congressional investigators.