Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Trump allegedly discussed witnesses' interactions with special counsel

Donald Trump Donald Trump. Alex Wong Getty Images
Andrew Cummings | 10 March, 2018, 00:56

Trump has repeatedly decried the investigation as a "witch hunt" and there have been some reports about how people around the President, including his lawyers, have been talking about when Mueller might wrap this up.

The special counsel's investigation is now one of several probes looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump campaign associates have any ties with Russians.

Trump's lawyers believe Mueller will mostly focus on whether Trump obstructed justice by firing ex-FBI Director James Comey.

Further spotlight was cast upon Trump's conduct during the investigation when The New York Times reported this week that he had asked House general counsel Don McGahn and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus about what they told the special counsel's team during their testimonies. McGahn did not release a statement contradicting the story and reportedly had to remind Trump that he did, in fact, ask him to dismiss the special counsel.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has gathered evidence that a secret meeting in Seychelles just before the inauguration of Donald Trump was an effort to establish a back channel between the incoming administration and the Kremlin - apparently contradicting statements made to lawmakers by one of its participants, according to people familiar with the matter.

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A representative of the special counsel's office declined to comment on the published reports.

It doesn't seem like either interaction qualifies as witness tampering, but the Times points out the conversations could give Mueller more ammunition in a potential obstruction of justice case.

At a January press conference, Trump said he "looked forward" to a sit down with Mueller but evaded questions about when he would interview.

The lawyers are also considering whether to seek an agreement with Mueller "on the scope of his questioning of the president", the Journal reported. In December, during a meeting in the West Wing, the president brought up Priebus' meeting with Mueller, asking how it went and if investigators had been "nice".

Those conversations were revealed to Mueller in interviews with witnesses who considered the interactions as troublesome.

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