Special Counsel Looking Into Whether Trump Obstructed Justice — REPORT
It's not just about Russian hacking anymore. According to a report from The Washington Post, special counsel Robert Mueller has expanded his investigation to look into whether President Trump might have obstructed justice in his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
The initial investigation focused solely on potential Russian hacking in the 2016 election and whether any Trump surrogates — like former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn — might have been involved. Now, The Post reports, Trump himself has become part of that probe.
Comey testified before the Senate that he had in fact told Trump that the president was not specifically under investigation, confirming Trump's claims that he had done so. Apparently that was true all along, until Trump fired Comey and allegedly cited the Russia investigation as a reason. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off," Trump reportedly told Russian officials visiting the White House in May.
According to the unnamed sources who spoke to The Washington Post, an obstruction of justice investigation began mere days after Trump fired Comey. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats is reportedly cooperating with the investigation, as he has information that could be key to understanding if Trump did attempt to impede the investigation into Russia and the election. Coats allegedly told associates that Trump asked him to help end the investigation into Flynn, though Coats has since denied that report.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named Mueller as special counsel in mid-May as allegations swirled that the Department of Justice couldn't handle the probe in an unbiased way. "My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted," Rosenstein said at the time.
The news that an obstruction of justice charge could potentially be on its way for the president came just one day after Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the firing of Comey and the handling of the Russia investigation. During his testimony, Sessions refused to answer multiple questions, citing protection of the president's confidentiality, despite the president never having invoked executive privilege. He also, when asked if he would have "headed for the exits" if he knew about any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, replied "maybe."
Trump might have felt "vindication" after Comey testified that he was not personally under investigation, but this news seems to indicate that changed the minute he booted Comey from the FBI. "It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation," Comey said. "I was fired, in some way, to change — or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted."