Reports say Mueller probe now examining possible obstruction

Friday, 16 Jun, 2017

Special counsel Robert Mueller is leading a probe of Russian interference in the presidential election, whether Trump associates had contacts with Russians, as well as whether Trump's firing of Comey was an effort to obstruct the Russia probe, according to media reports.

Trump has repeatedly lambasted the Russian Federation probe as a "witch hunt", using the phrase in at least eight tweets since March.

Comey testified under oath to Congress last week that he believed he was sacked 'because of the Russian Federation investigation'.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Mr Trump's personal lawyer, responded Wednesday evening to the Post report by saying: "The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal".

Mueller also has the authority to investigate whether Trump tried to obstruct justice amid mounting evidence that he pressured the FBI to drop an investigation into his former national security advisor, Mike Flynn. The Washington Post was first to report the news. So he sort of says it but ultimately backs off and says, look; ultimately it is the special counsel Mueller's decision to make about whether any laws were broken in this.

Mr Putin also echoed Mr Trump's criticism of Mr Comey, saying it was "very strange" for a former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief to leak details of his conversations with the United States president to the media through a friend of his.

Mr Comey confirmed in his testimony to the Senate intelligence committee last week that Mr Trump was not personally under investigation for contacts with Russian Federation, despite an ongoing probe into links between his campaign team and the Kremlin.

"Mueller is setting up a dragnet of obstruction, financial questions and every aspect of Trump's life and his associates lives", Gingrich wrote on Twitter, adding "very risky".

If the investigation Trump calls a witch hunt fails to turn up anything damaging, you can bet he will trumpet yet another "win" of one sort or another.

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller last month, on Tuesday testified that he has seen no evidence of good cause to fire Mueller.

Comey testified that Trump didn't order him to halt the Flynn probe, but expressed his hope that it would go away.

Mueller's friendship with Comey and Mueller's selection of several investigators who have made campaign donations to Democrats are among the issues Gingrich is raising as problematic.

The situation changed, the Post reported, after Trump fired Comey.

The White House could assert executive privilege to prevent those officials from being questioned about conversations with the president, which could lead to battles in court, where judges have tended to hold that criminal investigations can override such privilege, the New York Times reports. The investigations, however, have cast a shadow over his five-month presidency.

Trump has regularly turned to Twitter to blast reports about his alleged connections to Russia or the inquiries into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.