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Trump with Vladimir Putin in Paris. Photo: Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung via Getty Images

After President Trump fired former FBI director James Comey in May 2017, the FBI opened an investigation into whether Trump was secretly "working on behalf of Russia against American interests," the New York Times reports.

Details: Intelligence officials had their concerns about Trump's ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign, but held off on opening an investigation because of the sensitive and potentially explosive implications that it came with. It was only after Trump twice tied the firing of Comey to his desire to put an end to the Russia investigation that officials decided to launch an inquiry into "whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security," per the Times.

  • The first red flag that alerted officials to the possibility that an investigation was necessary was an early draft of Comey's firing letter, in which Trump thanked Comey for telling him he was not a target of the Russia probe. The second was when Trump told NBC's Lester Holt in an interview that he had fired Comey because of the Russia investigation.
  • FBI officials reportedly felt validated when it was later revealed that Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office, "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off,” just days after the Comey firing.
  • The investigation had both a counterintelligence and criminal aspect to it — with the criminal question being whether he had obstructed justice by firing Comey, per the Times. The probe has since been handed off to special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • The aggressive move to investigate Trump reportedly set off "a vigorous debate" within the Justice Department over whether FBI agents overreacted by opening the counterintelligence probe.

Statement from White House:

“This is absurd. 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.”
— Press Secretary Sarah Sanders

Go deeper: Timeline — Every big move in the Mueller investigation

Go deeper

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

3 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to form team to solve consulate dispute

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (right) meet in Washington. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel are planning to form a joint team to hold discreet negotiations on the reopening of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: The consulate handled relations with the Palestinians for 25 years before being shut down by then President Donald Trump in 2019. Senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government see the consulate issue as a political hot potato that could destabilize their unwieldy coalition.