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Thursday, April 19, 2018

‘After AG, Robert Mueller seeks to question Donald Trump in Russia probe’

Mueller is also investigating whether Trump's actions in office, including the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn and firing of James Comey, constituted obstruction of justice

By: PTI | Washington | Published: January 24, 2018 5:39:28 pm
Robert Mueller, Donald Trump, Russia probe, Russia investigation, world news, latest world news, indian express, indian express news US President Donald Trump (Reuters)

Special counsel Robert Mueller wants to question US President Donald Trump on his decisions to fire his national security adviser and the FBI chief, a media report said Wednesday, days after he interviewed the Attorney General in a probe into whether Russia colluded with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. Mueller, a former FBI director, has already interviewed several close aides and family members of Trump. He is also investigating whether Trump’s actions in office, including the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn and firing of James Comey, constituted obstruction of justice.

Flynn resigned last February following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump administration officials about his communications with the then Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. Trump fired Comey in last May, days after he told Congress that he could not comment on whether there was evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. At the time, Comey was overseeing the Russia probe.

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed for several hours by special counsel investigators, according to US Justice Department officials. Sessions is the first member of Trump’s Cabinet to be questioned in the probe.

Citing two people familiar with Mueller’s plans, the Washington Post said Trump’s attorneys have worked out terms for the president’s interview with the Special counsel’s team which could be presented to him “as soon as next week”. “The president’s legal team hopes to provide Trump’s testimony in a hybrid form — answering some questions in a face-to-face interview and others in a written statement,” the report said.

Trump, earlier, had hinted that it “seems unlikely” that he would allow Mueller to “interview” him. A stunning barrage of revelations have suggested that at least one strand of Mueller’s Russia probe is racing toward its end game, emphasising the gravity of the situation facing the White House and the potential vulnerability of the President, CNN commented.

Mueller’s request to question Trump, and news that his team has already interviewed fired FBI Director Comey and Attorney General Sessions, indicate that the special counsel has a clear picture of where he is headed in what could turn into an obstruction of justice case, legal experts were quoted as saying by the network.

“It’s possible that Mueller is closing in on his determination about what obstruction looks like, whether it is a criminal offense in his mind, whether it is an impeachable offense, or whether it amounts to nothing,” Michael Zeldin, a former senior aide to Mueller at the Justice Department, told CNN.

Meanwhile, the White House said it supports “full transparency” around a secret memo criticising the FBI but it was for the House Intelligence Committee to decide whether to release it or not.

“We certainly support full transparency, and we believe that’s with the House Intel Committee to make a choice,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference. She reiterated that the White House would be cooperative with Mueller.

“As we have said probably just about every day this year, that we are going to be fully cooperative with the special counsel and we are going to continue to do that throughout the process,” Sanders said when asked whether the president was open to being interviewed by Mueller.

“But we are also not going to comment on who may or may not, or could be interviewed at any point,” she said. Sanders said Trump wants the controversy should come to an end.

“The President wants to see this end, and he wants to see them finally come to the same conclusion that I think most in America have, that there is nothing to this. “They have spent the better part a year looking, digging, obsessing over trying to find something and are yet to find anything,” she said.

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