The Washington Post: Trump is under investigation for possible obstruction of justice
WASHINGTON — Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Donald Trump for possible obstruction of justice, The Washington Post reported Wednesday evening.
Mueller is interviewing as early as this week three top intelligence officials as part of the probe, the Post reported, citing “five people briefed on the requests.”
It is the most significant sign that Mueller’s investigation is extending beyond questions of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The news came the same week as Trump friend Chris Ruddy floated the possibility that Trump would fire Mueller, who was appointed to head up the investigation after Trump fired Comey.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, immediately condemned the Post report.
“The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal,” Corallo told CNN.
The NSA said in a statement that the “NSA will fully cooperate with the special counsel. We are not in a position to comment further.”
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, hinted broadly during a House committee hearing on Tuesday that the special counsel investigation could be looking at Trump.
When asked about a letter he wrote recommending firing former FBI Director James Comey, Rosenstein said that Mueller could be looking into the decision-making process for the firing — and he was therefore “not at liberty to talk about that now.”
Mueller has been tasked with leading the executive branch’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any potential collusion between Russia and Trump associates.
Mueller met with Sens. Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the Republican and Democratic leadership of the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday.
Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee last week and confirmed that he gave Mueller the memos he wrote detailing his interactions with Trump ahead of his firing. In one memo, Comey said Trump tried to direct him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey said he believed Mueller would look into Trump for obstruction of justice.
“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards, to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.”
According to The Washington Post, officials said one of the exchanges of potential interest to Mueller took place on March 22, less than a week after Daniel Coats was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the nation’s top intelligence official.
Coats was attending a briefing at the White House together with officials from several other government agencies. When the briefing ended, as The Post previously reported, Trump asked everyone to leave the room except for Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
Coats told associates that Trump had asked him if he could intervene with Comey to get the bureau to back off its focus on former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its Russia probe, according to officials. Coats later told lawmakers that he never felt pressured to intervene.
The Post said a day or two after the March 22 meeting, Trump telephoned Coats and Rogers to separately ask them to issue public statements denying the existence of any evidence of coordination between his campaign and the Russian government.
Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the president’s requests, officials told The Washington Post.