The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Robert Mueller, the FBI’s special counsel heading up the Trump Russia probe, is investigating whether Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice.
According to officials in the White House, Mueller’s investigation shifted to Trump’s own actions shortly after he fired James Comey on May 9th. Reportedly, the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, NSA chief, Mike Rogers, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, had all agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week.
Coats, Rogers and Ledgett will reportedly appear voluntarily, but it’s not clear whether they will divulge details of their conversations with the President or invoke executive privilege.
The Washington Post is also reporting that in addition to Trump’s actions, Mueller’s investigation “is examining possible contacts with Russian operatives as well as any suspicious financial activity related to those individuals.” According to The New York Times, this includes “money laundering by Trump associates”:
The suspicion is that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely have been in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that there would have been an effort to hide the payments, probably by routing them through offshore banking centers.
The White House didn’t deny the report, they simply referred inquiries to Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, whose only statement read:
“The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.”
Predictably. Donald Trump blasted the news on Twitter this morning.
They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice
The irony, of course, is that until Trump fired Comey, it appeared he was not the subject of any investigation. As The Daily Beast puts it:
Firing James Comey, the FBI director, was, by Trump’s explanation, a way to stop a “witch hunt” against his team’s alleged ties to Russia. It led, within weeks, to the appointment of a special prosecutor, Comey’s FBI predecessor, Robert Mueller. And now Mueller is investigating Trump himself for possible obstruction of justice—by firing Comey, who had led the FBI inquiry.
According to one White House official:
“The president did this to himself.”
If the reports are true that Mueller is pursuing an obstruction of justice case against the President, it appears he would have the backing of a majority of the American people.
A new AP-NORC poll out this morning finds that a clear majority — 61% of Americans — believe Donald Trump “has tried to impede or obstruct the investigation into whether his campaign had ties to Russia.” Only 37% believe he’s innocent of that charge.