The FBI is conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russia's efforts to manipulate public opinion in the United States presidential election, examining how the operation was paid for and whether any Americans were involved, current and former U.S. officials told NBC News.
Former intelligence officials told NBC News that President Donald Trump would technically have the authority to order an end to the investigation — which the CIA, NSA and Treasury Department are also participating in — given that the intelligence agencies report directly to him.
Officials have not said whether the investigation has unearthed any evidence of wrongdoing by Trump aides or any other Americans. Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said on the "Today" show that the president would let the investigation go wherever it leads. And it would be politically disastrous for Trump to end the probe, the former intelligence officials said.
"I remember the last president who ordered a stop to an investigation and it cost him his presidency," said Raymond Batvinis, a former FBI counter intelligence agent who teaches national security at George Washington University, speaking of Richard Nixon and Watergate.