Probe whether Don was agent

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY CHRIS SOMMERFELDT

Top FBI of­fi­cials be­came so con­cerned by Pres­i­dent Trump’s ac­tions in the days be­fore and af­ter he fired James Comey that they opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether he was se­cretly work­ing for the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment against U.S. in­ter­ests, ac­cord­ing to a re­port Fri­day.

The ex­plo­sive probe, launched by law en­force­ment brass af­ter Trump axed Comey as FBI di­rec­tor in May 2017, was picked up by Robert Mueller upon his ap­point­ment as spe­cial coun­sel later that month, mul­ti­ple peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter told the New York Tim es.

It was not clear whether Mueller has con­tin­ued the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as part of his in­quiry into whether Trump’s cam­paign con­spired with the Krem­lin’s in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion.

A spokesman for Muller de­clined to com­ment.

The FBI probe re­port­edly had a sep­a­rate com­po­nent that Mueller is pub­licly known to be pur­su­ing still: whether Trump ob­structed jus­tice by fir­ing Comey.

The Pres­i­dent ex­plic­itly ad­mit­ted in a TV in­ter­view af­ter Comey’s fir­ing that he moved to boot the FBI chief at least in part be­cause of “this Rus­sia thing” — a ref­er­ence to the bu­reau’s nascent in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s pro-Trump med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion.

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cials rea­soned that if Trump had booted Comey to stop the Rus­sia probe, it would be a mat­ter of na­tional se­cu­rity if it pre­vented the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity from learn­ing the full ex­tent of the Krem­lin’s at­tack on teh elec­tion, the sources said.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials grew in­creas­ingly con­cerned and moved to­ward open­ing a probe af­ter the Pres­i­dent pri­vately asked Comey to pledge loy­alty to him — and then asked the FBI di­rec­tor to end a probe into Michael Flynn, Trump’s for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser who has since pleaded guilty to ly­ing about his con­tacts with Rus­sians, the sources said.

The fi­nal straw prompt­ing the FBI probe was was Trump’s in­ter­view with NBC News two days af­ter Comey’s fir­ing.

“I was go­ing to fire Comey know­ing there was no good time to do it,” Trump said in the in­ter­view. “And in fact, when I de­cided to just do it, I said to my­self, I said, you know, this Rus­sia thing with Trump and Rus­sia is a made-up story. It’s an ex­cuse by the Democrats for hav­ing lost an elec­tion that they should’ve won.”

The White House pushed back against the lat­est twist in the swirling Trump-Rus­sia saga.

“This is ab­surd,” press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said. “James Comey was fired be­cause he’s a dis­graced par­ti­san hack, and his deputy, An­drew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI. Un­like Pres­i­dent Obama, who let Rus­sia and other for­eign ad­ver­saries push Amer­ica around, Pres­i­dent Trump has ac­tu­ally been tough on Rus­sia.”

McCabe de­clined to com­ment through a spokes­woman.

No ev­i­dence has emerged pub­licly that Trump was se­cretly op­er­at­ing as a Rus­sian agent, but a num­ber of his top as­so­ciates — in­clud­ing Flynn and his for­mer cam­paign chair­man Paul Manafort — have been in­dicted and pleaded guilty to Rus­sia-linked crimes.

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