Mueller Investigation Could Have Classified Communications Intercepts Proving Trump Worked With Russia: Former FBI Chief

robert mueller
Robert Mueller, then FBI director, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill, on June 13, 2013. The revelation that President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort shared polling data with a Russian operative is likely evidence of collusion by the president’s 2016 campaign. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Following a report that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into President Donald Trump's relationship with Russia, former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi said it is likely that Robert Mueller indeed has "classified" evidence.

"I think this is particularly sobering, even for career counterintelligence professionals who always in the back of their minds think there is an outside possibility someone could rise to high office who might be playing for another team," Figliuzzi said during an appearance on MSNBC's AM Joy. "To see this in writing, to hear this report — if it's accurate to say the bureau actually opened a case on Donald J. Trump — is really like hitting the American people in the gut."

Figluizzi and AM Joy host Joy Reid referenced a report from the New York Times, published on Friday, which revealed that the FBI began the counterintelligence investigation just days after former FBI director James Comey was fired. The goal of the investigation, the Times said, was to determine if Trump "was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence."

While Mueller took over the counterintelligence case and combined it with his own investigation, the Times was unable to determine if he is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter.

According to the Times, the investigation began in part after Trump linked Comey's firing to the Russia probe. If the president had fired the former FBI director to stop or hold up the investigation then it would be both obstruction of justice and a national security issue.

"It means likely, Joy, even though the article is citing the public behavior of the president, as you just noted, in order to get this to pass muster, in order to get this through FBI headquarters, through teams of lawyers, across the street to the Department of Justice, to be the title name of an investigation, I am virtually certain that more evidence than just the public behavior of the president is involved in this and I think that evidence is likely classified evidence," Figluizzi said.

No evidence has been released publicly that Trump was obtaining instructions from Russia or involved in secret communications with Russian officials, the Times said.

Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, dismissed the investigation when questioned by the Times, saying: "The fact that it goes back a year and a half and nothing came of it that showed a breach of national security means they found nothing,"

However, Reid asked Figluzzi, a national security contributor for NBC News, if he believes that the FBI has some sort of evidence that Trump indeed was involved in counterintelligence with Russia.

"The short answer is yes. But I don't even think that those relaxed regulations may play into that or not. They might, but from day one, Joy, you've heard the intelligence professionals saying there is much more to this iceberg than just the tip," Figluzzi said. "That is what we call the dark side — the signals intelligence, the intercepts worldwide."