FBI probed whether Trump secretly worked for Russia

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The Times cited anonymous former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation Friday who said counterintelligence investigators looked into whether "Trump was knowingly working for Russian Federation or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence".

Real estate mogul Donald Trump checks out sites in Moscow, Russia, for luxury residential towers in 1996.

The case was then referred to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into whether Russian agents interfered with the 2016 election, the Times reported, adding that it is not clear whether the special counsel has continued that part of the investigation. The Times says it's unclear whether Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence angle.

In 2016, USA intelligence agencies concluded that Russian Federation had launched cyber-attacks and planted fake news stories on social media in a bid to boost Donald Trump and damage his rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton.

In a strongly worded reaction, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "This is absurd".

"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.

While similar suspicious were raised even during his presidential campaign in 2016, officials said that the probe couldn't be carried out then as they did not really have a plan on how go about it considering how sensitive the issue was.

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The Times reported that USA counterintelligence investigators were concerned that the president's actions were a possible threat to national security.

"I have no concerns about Cohen at all because I can prove with very little effort that he is a total, complete and absolute liar", Giuliani said.

The probe into Trump also looked into possible criminality, in particular the May 2017 firing of Comey and whether that could be deemed an obstruction of justice.

FBI investigated US President Trump for possible secret Russian favours, reports say. NBC News reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein plans to step down after Mueller completes the investigation and expects that he will be able to leave by March. Mueller is reportedly also investigating whether the president tried to impede the investigation into any role Russian Federation played in the election.

"James Comey was sacked because he's a disgraced partisan hack", Sanders continued, "and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

She went on to say that Trump has "actually been tough on Russian Federation", unlike former president Barack Obama.