The special counsel looking into Russian interference in the presidential election is now investigating whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey, theWashington Post reported on Wednesday. A spokesperson for Trump responded to the obstruction of justice investigation by condemning FBI leakers who spoke about the investigation, but stopped short of denying that the investigation is taking place.
"The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal," a spokesperson for Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal lawyer, told NBC News.
The Post reported that administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity claim that the FBI will begin interviewing national intelligence officials to gain insight into the president's motives in firing Comey — specifically, whether it was an attempt to thwart the Russia investigation that Comey was presiding over at the time. While Trump had not previously been under investigation for any wrongdoing, officials told the Post that changed soon after Comey's firing.
The spokesperson's response to this report focused exclusively on the officials who leaked the information to the press, rather than providing a response to the allegations against him. This rhetoric has become common within the administration — in the past, Trump has repeatedly claimed that "the real story" is "illegal leaks coming out of Washington," even as pretty serious allegations are made against him.
The Post reports that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, head of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers, and former Deputy Director of the NSA Richard Ledgett have all agreed to be interviewed by the FBI as early as this week. The NSA reportedly plans to "fully cooperate with the special counsel” in the investigation into Trump's actions.
Questions about President Trump's potentially illegal conduct have only increased following Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. The former FBI Director said that Trump's stated reasons for firing him were "“plain and simple" lies.
"I was fired because of the Russia investigation," Comey said under oath.
Trump responded to the testimony by condemning Comey for being a "leaker" after the former FBI Director admitted to leaking allegations against the President to the press before the hearing. Trump also tweeted that he felt "vindicated" by Comey's public affirmation that he had told the President he was not personally under investigation. Given today's report, and the upcoming investigation into potential obstruction of justice, those feelings may soon change.