But Trump's behavior in the days around Comey's May 2017 firing as FBI director, specifically two instances in which he seemed to tie Comey's ousting to the Russian Federation investigation, helped trigger the counterintelligence part of the investigation, according to the newspaper.
He said that he fired Comey because he was "a awful liar, and he did a bad job as the FBI director" and called the former director's handling of the Clinton email probe "one of the biggest screw-ups that anybody's ever seen as an investigation".
The reports come as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation looms large in the background, punctuated by guilty pleas, convictions and indictments of former Trump associates.
Investigators are trying to establish whether there was any collusion between Trump's campaign team and Russian officials. The Times depicts a highly politicized intelligence agency whose officials carefully monitor the activities of the two main capitalist parties, keeping a vigilant eye out for any deviations from the national security consensus in Washington.
The Times published the article in an effort to revive the anti-Russia campaign against Trump, promoting the unsubstantiated and highly dubious claim that Trump is a Russian agent.
Trump also objected to a report in The Washington Post that said he went to extraordinary lengths to hide details of his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin even from high-ranking officials in his own administration. But the interpreter told them that the president had taken the notes after the meeting, and had instructed the translator not to discuss the meeting, the former official said.
'From a point of view of strength... rather, he has done what appears to be Putin's goals.
'Anybody could have listened to that meeting, it is open for grabs.
On Sunday, congressional Democrats said the steps Trump took to keep his conversations secret brought forth uncomfortable questions about the relations between the two men and why the US president echoed some of Putin's positions.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Times he had no knowledge of the inquiry but said that since it was opened a year and a half ago and they hadn't heard anything, apparently "they found nothing".
But, apparently, it's not: Several unnamed officials, according to the Post, "said they were never able to get a reliable readout of the president's two-hour meeting in Helsinki". "If this really did happen, Congress needs to know about it and what I want to do is make sure how could the Federal Bureau of Investigation do that?"
Whatever the facts, Democrats are eyeing a major dust-up and a chance to spend floor time blasting President Trump over allegations of election conspiracy with the Russians, along with the opportunity to make GOP lawmakers take a vote either defending or implicitly condemning the president.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has defended the decision, saying the companies are undergoing a major restructuring to "sever Deripaska's control and significantly diminish his ownership".
The businessman, who has close ties to the Kremlin, also had ties with Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, documents have showed.
Warner predicted some Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate would join Democrats in voting to override the removal of these sanctions.