Saturday, 18 November, 2017

Trump being investigated for possible obstruction of justice

Bennie Garza | 16 June, 2017, 10:50

Reporters Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Sari Horwitz wrote Wednesday evening that special counsel Robert Mueller is now probing "whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice" - an investigation they say began just days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

The Post reported that Mueller and his team are interviewing senior intelligence officials about Trump's role. That combined with Comey's subsequent firing, which Trump said later was not about Comey's treatment of the Clinton email investigation but about the Russian Federation probe, seems like the main line of argument if you want to claim obstruction took place. The papers also reported that Mueller is looking into the possibility that Trump associates engaged in money laundering or other financial crimes with Russian officials as their co-conspirators.

But, "Officials say that changed shortly after Comey's firing", the Post reports.

Barely a month after Mr Trump dismissed Mr Comey, there are rumours that he may seek to sack Mr Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed following the FBI chief's ouster to head the agency's Russian Federation investigation.

Mark Carallo, a spokesman for Trump's attorney Marc Kasowitz, questioned the legality of the leaking information about the investigation, calling it " outrageous, inexcusable and illegal" in a statement to TIME.

Last week, Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had informed Trump that there was no investigation of the president's personal conduct, at least while he was leading the FBI.

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. But the Post reports that the focus is also shifting to Trump himself.

In a number of testy exchanges with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sessions said he would not answer many of their questions because of a long-standing Justice Department policy that he said protects private conversations between Cabinet secretaries and the president.

Asked whether Trump's actions rose to the level of obstruction of justice, Comey testified last week: "I don't know". Trump wrote on Twitter, in a pair of messages that ended with a reference to his campaign slogan "Make America Great Again".

The sources, billed as familiar with Mueller's thinking, say the special counsel now views the matter as more than a simple "he said-he said" situation.

And of course, there was one especially high-profile meeting between Trump and Kislyak at the White House.

Trump is not the first president to be subjected to a special counsel investigation, nor the first president to protest it.

While a sitting president is unlikely to face criminal prosecution, obstruction of justice could form the basis for impeachment.

Comey told Congress last week that before being sacked, Trump pressured him to drop an investigation into his former national security advisor, Mike Flynn, who was forced to quit for lying about his links to Moscow. The "smoking gun" that did in President Nixon, in the end, was a tape that revealed he ordered his chief of staff to get the Central Intelligence Agency to stop the FBI's investigation into the Watergate break-ins, as Dylan Matthews explains.

The Post calls it "a major turning point in the almost year-old FBI investigation".

Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with Trump, arguing that he could not disclose private communications with the president. He described Mueller as operating independently from the Justice Department in his investigation.

News of the appointments caused former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to take note of past campaign contributions that Mr. Dreeben, Ms. Rhee, Mr. Weissmann and Mr. Quarles had reportedly given to Democratic presidential nominees.

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