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President Donald Trump swats at a bee during a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden of the White House, Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Washington. Image Credit: AP

WASHINGTON: The FBI sent an undercover investigator to meet with an advisor to Donald Trump's presidential campaign to try to determine if it was working with Russia, The New York Times reported.

The investigator who met with George Papadopoulos at a London bar in September 2016 - two months before the election that brought Trump to office - was posing as a research assistant, the Times said, citing unnamed people familiar with the operation.

The effort ultimately "yielded no fruitful information," the newspaper reported, but the revelation may provide further ammunition to Trump, who has denounced what he has termed "spying" on his presidential campaign.

Attorney General William Barr echoed that characterization in testimony to Congress, saying that he will open an inquiry into "spying" against Trump by the FBI at the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The 22-month investigation - which Trump repeatedly dismissed as a "witch hunt" - led to charges against 34 individuals, including Papadopoulos, and three companies.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and pledged to cooperate, eventually serving 12 days in prison.