UPDATED: 2:40 p.m.
It's now been revealed that the FBI had two political bombshells ready to drop during the last U.S. election. One, it unloaded on Democrats two weeks before election day. The other it held onto — until two months into Donald Trump's presidency.
It dropped Monday.
In an announcement sure to shake the foundations of the 2016 election, the FBI announced that it has been investigating possible criminal collusion between the Russian government and associates of the Trump campaign since July.
FBI director James Comey revealed it while testifying to Congress. He's the same FBI director who three times during the campaign commented publicly about an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.
The news came in a five-hour hearing that concluded with the Republican committee chair stating the politically obvious: this shadow will linger for a while, creeping over the Trump White House.
"The longer this hangs out here, the bigger the cloud is," Republican Devin Nunes said as the hearing ended.
"There's a big, grey cloud that you have now put over people who have very important work to do to lead this country. So the faster you can get to the bottom of this, it's gonna be better for all Americans."
Comey replied: "I understand."
His revelation fanned a low-level fire crackling for months in the U.S. capital over why the Putin government intervened in the U.S. election; what its motives might have been; and whether the Trump team knew about it.
Late last July, Comey said, the agency began investigating contacts between Trump associates and the Russian government — which is believed to have stolen emails from the Democratic party and leaked them through intermediaries Wikileaks and Guccifer.
The investigation will include whether crimes were committed. It's unclear how long the probe will take. And law-enforcement officials wouldn't say a word about which Trump associates were targeted in the probe.
Comey declined to say whether his agency had questioned Michael Flynn, Trump's just-fired national-security adviser; Paul Manafort, his fired campaign manager; or Roger Stone, his longtime friend who admits he had back-channel communications with Wikileaks.
The White House moved to cut ties to all of them.
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer played down the importance of Flynn, calling him "a volunteer of the campaign." Manafort, he said, played "a very limited role for a very limited amount of time."