Wrong, Donald: Mueller is and has been investigating you for obstruction of justice
If the former F.B.I. director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee is to be believed, one of the driving factors that led Donald Trump to fire Comey was the F.B.I. chief’s reluctance to publicly state that the President was not a subject of the Russia investigation. But is he now? While the Justice Department and Robert Mueller, the special counsel, have not commented on whether they are investigating Trump, several former federal prosecutors told me that if he’s not yet, he soon will be—or at least should be.
The irony in all of this is that Trump’s actions may very likely have caused him to personally come under investigation.
Former prosecutors who have served in both Republican and Democratic Administrations told me that an obstruction-of-justice case against Trump is a no-brainer. “Comey’s testimony in a grand jury would be enough to get an indictment,” Julie O’Sullivan, who was part of the team that investigated Whitewater, the Clinton land deal that attracted a special prosecutor in the early nineties, said. To O’Sullivan, Comey’s detailed account of the Oval Office meeting in which Trump cleared the room and then told Comey to let go of the investigation of Michael Flynn, whom Trump had fired, the previous day, was especially damning because it showed that Trump knew that what he was doing was wrong.
“For a prosecutor, this attempt to hide the conversation, all antenna are going up,” O’Sullivan told me. “That tells you that he has a consciousness that what he’s about to do is wrong. It’s like having a bonfire with documents in the back yard. It’s wonderful. Seriously, this is the best thing ever for a prosecutor.”
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.
The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.
Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.
Five people briefed on the requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.