In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.Following his appointment as Special Counsel, Robert Mueller inherited the counterintelligence investigation.
To sharpen the focus on this revelation, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi says this wouldn't have been undertaken lightly by the FBI:
“The FBI is privy to all sorts of information, and if you’re going to open a case, as the New York Times reports, into the President of the United States you’re going to have more than just unstable public behavior,” Figliuzzi said. “You’re going to have something that at least gives you a reasonable suspicion, if not specific and articulable facts…. it means they’ve got intercepted communications, it means they’re privy to how these Russians were talking to the president or about the president.”
Based on his 25 years of experience and running the counterintelligence division Figliuzzi said he’s sure “there’s more than just the crazy public behavior.”With a "constellation of events" going back decades to when Russians were the only ones who would loan the real estate failure money, to his pursuit of a Trump hotel in Moscow, to his family's ties to Russian oligarchs, to the pro- Russia alterations in the Republican platform, to the infamous meeting in Trump Tower, to his continuing to undercut American interests to Russia's benefit, etc., etc., news that the FBI was investigating Russia's leverage over Trump (and that Mueller likely has the goods on Trump) is heartening, but shouldn't be too surprising. After all, Trump's treasonous behavior hasn't been sub rosa. It's been out there for years.
UPDATE: Martin Longman on the importance of the revelation (with a bit of "I've been telling you all along..."):
This counterintelligence investigation existed before it became formalized and it never went away. Robert Mueller inherited it and he has run it down with relentless dedication. In the process, he has also exposed other criminal activities including campaign finance violations involving bank and wire fraud, Russian collusion by the National Rifle Association, foreign lobbying violations, criminal behavior involving Trump’s lawyer, campaign finance chair and deputy chair, and probably tax and money laundering violations by the Trump organization.
I’ve been arguing for a long time that people are underestimating how strong the case for impeachment will be and that even the Senate Republicans will not be able to shrug it off. With this new reporting from the New York Times, you’re beginning to get a sense of what I’ve been talking about.
It’s gratifying to see things starting to come to fruition, but it’s still frustrating to see people acting surprised after all the effort I’ve put in to make the case that this is an inquiry that began as an investigation into Russia but has long sought to prove, and will prove, that the president is acting as an agent of a foreign power. (our emphasis)Tick tock tick tock.