Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Reports Trump spoke to witnesses over Russian Federation investigation

Reports Trump spoke to witnesses over Russian Federation investigation

On at least two occasions, Donald Trump asked witnesses in the Russian Federation investigation what they said to special counsel Robert Mueller, the New York Times reports. And Trump told White House officials after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation that he needed someone running the Justice Department who would protect him.

But that New York Times story, plus a Washington Post scoop about an apparent attempt to build a back channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin, provide more evidence that Mueller is conducting a broad, deep and significant investigation.

In one instance, Trump told an aide that McGahn should issue a statement denying a New York Times article in January that said the White House counsel told investigators the president had once asked him to fire Mueller.

The special counsel questioned witnesses recently about their interactions with the President since the investigation began.

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. When the incident was made public, Trump reportedly instructed then-White House staff secretary Rob Porter to inform McGahn that he should issue a statement denying the account, which McGahn also refused.

"It makes it look like you're cooking a story, and prosecutors are always looking out for it", said Julie O'Sullivan, a Georgetown University law professor. As the Times reports, McGahn "later had to remind" Trump he'd asked for Mueller's termination.

The President said he had never ordered McGahn to fire the special counsel. "White House counsels are not the president's personal lawyer".

A source with knowledge of the investigation said the conversation was limited to questions like "how did it go?" and "were you treated fairly?"

"We don't know exactly what McGahn said, but the mere fact that he put a stop to that letter is another piece of evidence that Mueller could use to say, 'Donald Trump was warned by the White House counsel that this was a problematic step and chose to do it anyway, '" Mariotti told Business Insider past year.

Mr Comey claimed that the president had asked for his loyalty and to end the inquiries into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn shortly before he was sacked.

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