Those acts fall well within the FBI’s role as the premier American counterintelligence agency. Comey also made a more explosive revelation in his March appearance before Congress: that federal investigators are also looking into “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” Trump, as well as those who worked in his campaign’s orbit, have strongly denied any wrongdoing.
A key focus in that avenue of the FBI investigation is believed to be Michael Flynn, the former national-security adviser fired by Trump in February. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported federal investigators interviewed Flynn about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, on the same day in December that the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia for its interference in the election. His denials about the conversations eventually led to his ouster. After leaving the post, Flynn filed papers to register as a foreign agent for lobbying work he performed on behalf of the Turkish government in mid-2016, months before Trump named him as his national-security adviser.
That work, plus payments he received from a Russian state-run media outlet in 2013, apparently drew law-enforcement scrutiny. CNN reported Tuesday that federal prosecutors in eastern Virginia issued subpoenas to Flynn associates on the subject as part of a grand jury investigation—a sign that at least part of the FBI’s Russia probe is in advanced stages. The U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia frequently prosecutes national-security cases; it’s unknown whether other U.S. attorney’s offices are involved, too.
Another FBI target is Carter Page, a one-time Trump campaign adviser on foreign-policy issues. Page joined the campaign in March 2016 and traveled to Moscow that July to give a commencement address at the New Economic School. While there, Page said he didn’t speak with any Russian officials under U.S. sanctions. But the trip apparently caught the bureau’s attention. Federal investigators reportedly applied for a FISA warrant targeting Page’s communications at some point after the Moscow trip, suggesting they believed they had probable cause he was aiding a foreign power in some way. Page has denied any wrongdoing.
The FBI isn’t the only federal agency involved. The Journal reported that Flynn is also under investigation by two U.S. foreign-intelligence agencies, the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, as well as the Treasury Department, which has a financial-crimes division. McClatchy reported in January that a similar slate of agencies is examining the extent of Moscow’s financial efforts to influence the election.