The Atlantic

The Real Significance of the FBI’s Probe Into Trump

It’s a big deal.
Source: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

The arresting New York Times headline last Friday—“F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia”—sparked a strangely bifurcated reaction. A bombshell to some, a dud to others, the story has had lots of people scratching their heads: What does it even mean?

The confusion is understandable, as is the debate over the significance of this deceptively complex and nuanced report—a story that, through no fault of reporters Adam Goldman, Michael Schmidt, and Nicholas Fandos, remains incomplete in key respects.

“My concern with the story,” Goldman told The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner, “was that it felt, to some extent, like a ‘duh’ story.” It was, after all, already well known that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was conducting a counterintelligence investigation of links between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, and there was plenty of evidence already in the public record of the president’s alarming behavior with respect to Vladimir Putin. It was also nothing new that Mueller was investigating obstruction of justice in connection with the president’s interactions with law enforcement. We’ve known that ever since The Washington Post reported it back on June 14, 2017.

[Read: Donald Trump’s pattern]

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