Former FBI agents and Justice Department officials have rushed to the FBI's defense over a report that President Donald Trump was being investigated for working for the Kremlin after he fired ex-director James Comey, saying it would not have been opened if officials were not seriously alarmed.
According to a report at the Daily Beast, agents and DOJ insiders who spoke with them said the White House's protestations that the investigation was "absurd" are far from the truth, with one admitting it was based on "serious and substantial evidence."
Stating that decision was made way up the FBI's hierarchy, one ex-agent said it was "unprecedented," which indicated it was not entered into lightly.
"This is uncharted territory,” explained Ali Soufan, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. “I don’t believe that it had happened before… Ever.”
Explaining why the agency took the extraordinary step of opening the investigation, a Justice Department attorney explained the process.
“There are a variety of ways to gather information about foreign efforts to influence a U.S. official that don’t require the sensitive step of targeting that official’s communications, and those who are criticizing the FBI for pursuing a counterintelligence investigation are doing so without any knowledge of what investigative steps were actually undertaken," the attorney said.
Another former agent agreed that the decision to investigate a sitting president had to have the approval from senior Justice Department officials.
“It would be most likely that the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ signed off on the investigation,” former agent Mike German confirmed before adding, "Of course, with the U.S. president as a subject, the threshold would be much higher than normal."
Another source in the Justice Department speculated that the investigation may still be ongoing.
"They take a long time. They're not over quickly. And based on the president’s public statements and actions, I think you have to open a cointel investigation,” explained the former senior DOJ official who oversaw counterintelligence investigations. “You might never know that it's resolved. These cases often never see the inside of a courtroom. The findings are often kept within the intelligence community, indexed and filed away.”
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