The FBI allegedly investigated Trump to see if he was working for Russia
In a world of free trade and globalisation, President Trump rose to power on a wave of isolationist and protectionist rhetoric. America would become great again by creating jobs, mining its resources and building not bridges, but walls.
However, while his close relationship with Russia didn’t cause this wave of popularity to collapse, it did generate serious concern about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel Investigation aims to determine to what extent the Russian government influenced the election and who conspired with them.
However, it now appears that President Trump himself was the subject of a secret investigation by the FBI. That’s according to the New York Times, who claim to have spoken to former law enforcement officials and individuals close to the investigation.
Investigators weren’t sure whether Trump was consciously acting on behalf of Moscow or if he had unknowingly fallen under their influence. However, the final straw was when he fired FBI Director James Comey.
There was no blueprint for a rogue counterintelligence mission regarding the president however, with the criminal investigation into possible election tampering both open and publicly known about, this fact-finding operation hid within it.
The firing of James Comey would almost certainly be considered an obstruction of justice should it have been discovered that Trump’s motive was to delay or hinder the open investigation. As such, it would have been political suicide for Trump to close the investigation - making this the perfect hiding place for its counterintelligence counterpart.
Former British spy Christopher Steele, who worked as an FBI informant, had collected memos from the summer of 2016 containing claims that Russian agents had sought intelligence which could be used to blackmail Trump. Ex adult performer Stormy Daniels, his alleged former lover, has now seemingly been vindicated with the confirmation that campaign money was used to buy her silence. With his history of womanising, it’s certainly not unlikely that Russian counterintelligence officers could have obtained such information.
Trump had set alarm bells ringing in July 2016 when, during a news conference, he suggested that Russian hackers should target Hilary Clinton. He also chose not to condemn but to publically condone Vladimir Putin’s politics and policies. Despite domestic and international pressure, he refused to criticise Putin over his questionable military intervention in Ukraine. Almost by osmosis, the Republican Party’s standpoint on the issue seemed to soften.
Prior to the election, four of Trump’s associates were being investigated for their links to Russia. Once elected, Trump sought a loyalty pledge from James Comey - who he would later fire before stating: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job.” The statement, from a document summarising a meeting, ends: “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
When Comey was fired on 9 May, 2017, FBI investigators were hesitant to open a counterintelligence operation straight away. However, Trump then appeared to link the firing of James Comey to the Russian meddling investigation not once but twice.
An unsent letter from Trump to Comey thanked him for previously telling him that he was not a subject of the investigation. Deputy attorney general Rod J Rosenstein redrafted the letter, explaining to Trump that there was simply no need to mention the investigation. Informed that the investigation should be mentioned, Rosenstein disobeyed Trump's order and sent his version, rather than the president’s.
As to whether the FBI officials involved were right to investigate Trump is a divisive issue, especially amongst government personnel. However, Trump’s actions could well have constituted criminality should he have been found to be working against the interests of America.
Trump has since responded to the claims in the New York Times article. In the first of a series of tweets, he stated “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!”
As the government freeze heads towards the one-month milestone, it is already the longest the US government has shut down for in history. Millions of Americans are rightly concerned about the future of democracy in the US. Meanwhile, Trump ordered hundreds of burgers to the White House ahead of a visit by the Clemson Tigers football team. “I like ‘em all, if it’s American I like, it’s all American stuff, but it’s good stuff,” the president said of fast food.