Mueller Time! Special Counsel wants answers from Spicer, Priebus, many others
It looks like Robert Mueller has kicked things up a notch:
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has alerted the White House that his team will probably seek to interview six top current and former advisers to President Trump who were witnesses to several episodes relevant to the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the request.
Mueller’s interest in the aides, including trusted adviser Hope Hicks, former press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus, reflects how the probe that has dogged Trump’s presidency is starting to penetrate a closer circle of aides around the president.
Each of the six advisers was privy to important internal discussions that have drawn the interest of Mueller’s investigators, including his decision in May to fire FBI Director James B. Comey and the White House’s initial inaction following warnings that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had withheld information from the public about his private discussions in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, according to people familiar with the probe. …
Mueller has notified the White House he will probably seek to question White House counsel Don McGahn and one of his deputies, James Burnham. Mueller’s office has also told the White House that investigators may want to interview Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
CNN had part of the story last night:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has approached the White House about interviewing staffers who were aboard Air Force One when the initial misleading statement about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower was crafted, three sources familiar with the conversations said.
The special counsel’s discussions with the White House are the latest indication that Mueller’s investigators are interested in the response to the Trump Tower meeting. …
The interviews with White House staffers who were aboard Air Force One have not begun, the sources said. They currently involve only a small number of people, but the sources cautioned that number could increase.
A couple of hours before the latest WaPo story, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin commented on the involvement of Donald Trump, Jr., who was questioned yesterday behind closed doors by
Donald Trump Jr. and his attorney — echoed by some credulous reporting — insist he did not “collude” with Russians. “Colluding” is not a crime or even a legal term. If you consider consulting with a Russian go-between, agreeing to take a meeting offered with the promise to get dirt on Clinton, and a series of misleading and incomplete statements explaining the meeting to be evidence of “collusion” and a guilty mindset, you are not alone. …
Oddly, Donald Trump Jr. in his Thursday interview under oath with staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee reportedly could not remember the details of how that [Air Force One] statement was put together. That’s hard to take at face value given the importance of the issue, the reported intervention of the president and how recent were the events in question (May of this year). Saying “I don’t remember” when one does remember would be false testimony under oath.
So now it is clear that one of the key subjects of Mueller’s investigation is the possibility of criminality in Team Trump’s clumsy damage control once news of Trump Jr’s meeting with Russian agents at Trump Tower went public.