Is the FBI's Counterintelligence Probe Into Donald Trump Still Active? That's the Question Americans Should Be Asking, Former FBI Agent Says

The recent revelation that the FBI's investigation into President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani appears to have included a counterintelligence component has some eyes turning back to the U.S. leader himself, raising questions around whether the FBI's probe into Trump is still ongoing.

Following reports that the probe into Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine included counterintelligence concerns, Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent who specialized in counterintelligence investigations, told Newsweek that the revelation should be raising questions around whether the counterintelligence probe into the president was still in motion.

In May 2017, just a few weeks before he was fired by Trump, former FBI Director James Comey confirmed in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI had been looking into potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government as part of a counterintelligence mission.

While special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation in March, finding insufficient evidence to conclude that Trump and his campaign had colluded with Russia in interference in the 2016 election, that does not mean the counterintelligence investigation into the president is a closed case, Rangappa said.

Because Mueller's probe into possible collusion was part of a broader investigation into whether Trump and his campaign team might have been working with Russia, the former FBI agent suggested that Trump could still be under investigation.

"The other piece that we don't really know, which is the hugely important piece: is the counterintelligence investigation on the president still ongoing?" Rangappa, who now serves as the director of admissions and as a senior lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, where she teaches national security law, said.

The question was one that also appeared to be raised by U.S. attorney and professor Seth Abramson, who suggested in a tweet on Thursday that the Trump-Ukraine scandal would eventually "dovetail with the entirety of the Mueller Report, the entirety of the FBI counterintelligence investigation, and the entirety of the investigation into the Trump transition and inaugural fund."

"The scope of the Trump-Ukraine scandal will come to astonish America," he said.

"I've no idea whether this scope will be appreciated by America by Christmas, as Congress is rushing toward impeachment and a Senate trial largely to avoid any overlap with 2020 voting, but at the latest within a few years America will understand how these scandals were linked," Abramson added.

Rangappa said that, in her view, it was too early to "speculate" on whether the two investigations will ultimately be part of the same whole—but she refused to rule the possibility out.

"Because it's so opaque," Rangappa said, "we obviously have zero idea whether or not [the two investigations] intersect. I cannot speculate," she said.

"But, we do know that there have been many people in [Trump's] orbit who have had counterintelligence investigations—not just President Trump and Giuliani, but, before that, [Paul] Manafort, [George] Papadopoulos, [Michael] Flynn... So, what I'm saying is that you definitely do see an existing pattern."

As it stands, Rangappa said, what many who followed the Mueller probe and, now, the Trump-Ukraine scandal, appear to be missing is the wider "national security picture."

"Right now, we are in a situation where we're dealing with foreign governments, things that, you know, may involve national security threats that don't always involve violations of the criminal code or prosecutions," she said. "So, I think that picture, the national security picture, the idea underlying principles of the constitution that are being undermined here, those are being overlooked."

The fact alone that Giuliani could be subject to a counterintelligence investigation suggests that the FBI believes the attorney could be putting U.S. national security at risk, she said.

"I think it's important to phrase it correctly, that he has come under the radar for engaging in an activity or being in contact with individuals who may pose a security threat to the United States," Rangappa said.

"The investigation is a) there to determine whether or not the threat does in fact exist and then b) if the threat does exist, how to neutralize it," she said.

Ultimately, the former FBI special agent said: "The threat is that he may be in contact with individuals or engaging with activities that undermine the national security of the United States. How or why we don't know, but that's why they would be opening an investigation on him."

Whether Trump is still being investigated over similar concerns is still unclear, however.

Back in May, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) told The Washington Post that his committee had largely been kept in the dark on the issue.

"The short answer is: We don't know," he said. "We don't know what happened to the counterintelligence investigation that James Comey opened."

"We would get briefed, predominantly at a Gang of Eight level, up until Comey was fired. And, after that point, while we continued to get quarterly—although often they missed the quarterly nature of it—counterintelligence briefings, they excluded the most important counterintelligence investigation then going on, that involving Donald Trump," he said at the time.

It is unclear whether anything has changed since then. Newsweek has contacted Schiff to find out whether his committee has received any updates since.

Asked in May whether he had any reason to believe the probe had been closed, Schiff said: "You know, I have not been able to get clarity on that."

"We have been seeking to get it, to get an answer from the Justice Department, from the counterintelligence division at the FBI, and we don't have clarity, which is concerning," he said.

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President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House on October 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump hosted Italian President Mattarella for an Oval Office meeting and a joint news conference, with an evening reception planned. Tasos Katopodis/Getty