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NYT: Investigation into Trump's campaign kept quiet and cautious before 2016 election

Updated 12:50 AM ET, Thu May 17, 2018

(CNN) - When the FBI started to look into the campaign of President Donald Trump and its ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the agency took steps to make sure it did not make waves before the election, according to a report by The New York Times.

At the beginning of the investigation, the bureau dispatched two agents to London to interview Australian Ambassador Alexander Downer, who reportedly had proof that one of Trump's advisers knew about Russia's meddling in the 2016 election before it occurred.

The paper reports that the mission, named "Crossfire Hurricane" after a Rolling Stones lyric, was only known to a handful of FBI officials.

The FBI, in an attempt to prevent leaks, kept details about what would later evolve into special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation from Justice Department political appointees. In fact, according to The New York Times, only about five Justice officials knew what the whole case entailed -- a far lower number than the 12 or so who would typically be read in on a case related to national security.

This comes with the one-year anniversary of Mueller's appointment to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential collusion between Trump's campaign associates and Russian officials. The investigation has run parallel to investigations by multiple congressional committees.

Trump has often spoken against the investigation, calling it a "witch hunt" and even suggesting there will be legal action taken against Mueller and his team.

The investigation has shown no sign of winding down despite hopes from the administration that it would have been concluded by December 2017.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's leaders said Wednesday they believed that the intelligence community's 2017 assessment of election meddling was correct, breaking with Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.

In thousands of pages of interview transcripts with the participants of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting shed new light on how eager Donald Trump Jr. and senior members of the Trump campaign were to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton -- and how frustrated and angry they were that the material did not come to fruition.

The nearly 2,000 pages of interviews do not appear to contain information that would change the course of Mueller's investigation into Trump's team and Russia. But the transcripts released by the Senate Judiciary Committee fill in new details about how Trump Jr., Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort were expecting a bombshell from Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.


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