President Donald Trump is now under investigation by recently appointed Special Counsel, Robert S. Mueller, and may have been since mid May – not long after former FBI Director James Comey was fired by Trump, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Post reporters Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Sari Horwitz have spoken with unnamed sources within the Trump White House that are disclosing that Mueller is in the process of conducting interviews with senior intelligence staff, examining possible obstruction of justice on the part of Trump.
The Post reports that Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, NSA head Admiral Mike Rogers and former Deputy NSA Director Richard Ledgett have all consented to meetings with Mueller’s investigative team.
The National Security Agency (NSA) issued a public statement indicating that it will “fully cooperate with the special counsel” but provided no further details. The office of the director of national intelligence and Ledgett declined to comment.
Observers of the ongoing process that has now widened to include the President as a subject of investigation, speculate about whether Trump will move to silence Coats, Rogers and Ledgett by invoking “executive privilege” – a term discussed frequently in Wednesday’s testimony of Atty. General Jeff Sessions before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Existing legal precedent, notably the Watergate proceedings of the Nixon presidential era, suggests that this (invoking executive privilege) would not be a successful strategy.
Circumstances leading up to the firing of Director Comey are integral concerning the focus on Trump and obstruction of justice. Trump was reportedly angry about Comey’s testimony in Congressional hearings on March 20, that the FBI was investigating collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence to disrupt the election and Comey’s unwillingness to publicly state that Trump himself was not under investigation.
Trump, even after the Justice Department and his White House communications staff issued statements that Comey’s firing had to do with the former director’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, essentially admitted in a sit down interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, that Trump pink slipped Comey for reasons central to his role in the Russian investigation.
The Post’s sources are certain that Mueller will move to obtain a memo written by Deputy Director Ledgett, that will contradict the recent testimony of his former boss, Mike Rogers and that of DNI Director Coats that Trump did not attempt to unduly impose on them to influence Comey to back off on the Russian / Trump campaign probe.
The disclosure, although not official, that Trump is now part of the scope of the investigation, comes on the heels of a report, that the White House has denied, from Christopher Ruddy, publisher of Newsmax, that Trump was contemplating dismissing Special Counsel Mueller.