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

FBI probe into Trump and Russia was codenamed 'Crossfire Hurricane'

From there, the tight group of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents went forward in interviewing Trump associates, which was kept secret for fears of leaks that could sway the campaign.

During their conversation, Downer was told that Russian Federation had a dirt file on Hillary Clinton, including hacked Democratic Party emails.

Downer reportedly notified US intelligence officials of his run in with Papadopoulos after the emails, which contained damaging information about Trump's former opponent Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOregon governor to face state rep in November Progressive pick Wild wins Dem primary for Pa. House seat Pelosi presses Ryan for classified briefing on election security MORE just as the aide said, began to leak to the public.

The reason for his delay is not known.

The Australian government reportedly passed that information to USA authorities in July 2016 after a cache of emails from the Democratic campaign was released.

Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now a cooperating witness in the special investigation. The resulting article, on October 31, reflected that caution and said that agents had uncovered no "conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government".

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.

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The mood among Crossfire Hurricane investigators was initially anxious, former officials said.

A strategy of interviewing campaign officials earlier rather than later was decided against as it might thrust the investigation into public view, exactly what FBI officials were trying to avoid during the heat of the presidential race.

Downer was granted permission from Canberra to break diplomatic protocol to be interviewed by agents in London in August 2016. "So we've got nothing further to add to that".

Trump has repeatedly labelled the Russian Federation probe a "political witch hunt" and insisted there was no collusion with Russian Federation.

But Comey has said they did not reveal Trump was under scrutiny out of fear of hindering the investigation.

Rachel Olding is a Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age based in the United States.

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