FBI investigated whether President Trump was secretly working for Russian Federation

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Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times he didn't know of that probe while also downplaying it.

In response to the events, according to the Times, the FBI began investigating whether Trump was a secret Russian agent. Was he working ... wittingly or unwittingly working on their behalf?

"In a way it's surprising to learn this, and in a way it is not", said former Central Intelligence Agency director John McLaughlin on MSNBC Friday night, about the FBI opening their investigation. "The other part was counterintelligence and national security investigation into the president's ties to Russian Federation".

The paper's report cited unnamed former law enforcement officials, "others familiar with the investigation", and the congressional testimony of former FBI general counsel James.

Days after that inquiry started, Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel and absorbed it into his own probe of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation to swing the 2016 election, the Times said.

The White House too has now released a statement on the issue calling the reports "absurd".

According to the Times, Trump at least twice linked his decision to fire Comey with the Russian Federation investigation, prompting counterintelligence officials to probe the president's actions.

"James Comey was sacked 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation", said the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said in a statement. She also disputed that Trump had ever been soft on Russian Federation.

It also examined whether Comey's firing amounts to obstruction of justice.

The probe was meant to test whether the firing of Comey was something that could be considered a national security threat, according to the report. Mr Mueller was appointed within days of Mr Comey's firing.

"No evidence has emerged publicly that Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials", The New York Times said.

And Trump's former presidential campaign chair, Paul Manafort, has been convicted in one case brought by Mueller and pleaded guilty in another, over financial crimes related to his work in Ukraine before the 2016 campaign, and for witness tampering.

The investigation the FBI opened into Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has always been publicly known: whether his firing of Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

Whether Mueller is still probing the counterintelligence aspect of that inquiry remains unclear.