The New York Times reported Friday that FBI agents opened a probe shortly after Trump fired James Comey, the FBI director, who was leading an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia to determine whether the US presidential nominee at the time was directly working on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the United States.
Now, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says his panel “will take steps to better understand both the president’s actions and the FBI’s response to that behavior” in coming weeks.
Lawmakers will also seek to protect investigators from Trump’s “increasingly unhinged attacks,” Nadler, a New York Democrat, said in a statement on Saturday.
“There is no reason to doubt the seriousness or professionalism of the FBI, as the president did in reaction to this story,” he added.
Trump on Saturday reacted to The Times report, saying he has been "far tougher" on Russia than past presidents.
Nadler also said the newspaper report revealed that Trump, in the earliest days of his administration, displayed so “erratic and concerning” behavior that prompted the FBI “to do the unprecedented - open a counterintelligence investigation into a sitting president.”
The Trump administration faced a shaky relationship with Moscow for most of 2018, especially in the second half of the year when Washington imposed new sanctions on a dozen individuals related to Russia's alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis.
Earlier in the year, however, the US-Russia ties appeared headed in a different direction following a summit between Trump and Putin in Helsinki, after which Trump shocked many in Washington by appearing to agree with Moscow’s explanation for election meddling in 2016 over the conclusion of US intelligence agencies.
The president later retracted his words after a storm of controversy, claiming to have misstated his conclusion on whether Moscow was involved in the hack of Democratic Party organizations during the 2016 presidential poll.