After President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in May of 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an inquiry into the matter, to determine whether Trump’s actions were done legitimately or at the orders of Russian agents.
Sources familiar with the investigation say that agents at the bureau became particularly concerned with Trump terminating Comey after the president made disparaging comments toward the former FBI director, including that the reason he did so dealt with the Russia investigation itself.
In addition to questioning whether the president was acting on behalf of the Kremlin, investigators also considered that Trump may have acted unwittingly into performing an action they had wanted him to do, according to reporting from the New York Times, which originally broke news of the story.
Trump’s comments immediately after he fired Comey nearly 18 months ago made many people across the country question his decision to do so. During an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, Trump alluded to Comey’s handling of the Russia probe as the reason he was let go.
“[W]hen 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,'” Trump said, per reporting from The Guardian.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 12, 2019
Some pundits at that time openly questioned whether Trump firing Comey over the Russia investigation amounted to obstruction of justice. The FBI was curious about that, too, according to reporting from the Times.
In addition to looking into whether he was working with Russia or not, the FBI also looked into whether Comey’s firing constituted an obstruction charge against the president.
The investigation that was opened by the FBI after Comey’s firing was later absorbed into the Russia inquiry itself, days later when former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed to his current role as special counsel.
That broader investigation was originally managed by Comey, and was looking into Russian interferences in the 2016 presidential election. It expanded to include an investigation into some of Trump’s campaign members’ roles in possibly working with Russia directly to help Trump win that election.
Neither the FBI nor the office of the special counsel has responded yet to these new revelations.
The sources who spoke to the Times did not divulge any information regarding conclusions that may have been drawn from the inquiry that was opened as a result of Trump’s firing of Comey.