Mueller wants to question Trump about Flynn and Comey departures
As the FBI continues to be under fierce attack by Republicans in a way that a Republican strategist critical of Presidential Donald Trump calls “latter day McCarthyism,” the Washington Post reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller now seeks to question Trump about the Trump’s decision to axe national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James B. Comey. There seems to be whiff of upcoming obstruction of justice charges in the air. Another report says Trump asked the then-acting FBI Director who (who is now under fire by republicans) who he voted for in the 2016 Presidential election.
Mueller’s interest in the events that led Trump to push out Flynn and Comey indicates that his investigation is aggressively scrutinizing possible efforts by the president or others to hamper the special counsel’s probe.
Discussions about a Trump interview come amid the broader inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, a wide-ranging investigation that has already led to charges against four former Trump advisers.
Mueller now appears to be turning his attention to Trump and key witnesses in his inner circle, raising the pressure on the White House as the administration enters its second year.
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed for several hours by special counsel investigators, according to Justice Department officials. He is the first member of Trump’s Cabinet to be questioned in the probe.
Months ago, the special counsel’s office also briefly interviewed Comey, who at the time vouched for the contents of memos he wrote about private conversations he had with the president, according to people familiar with the matter. The Sessions and Comey interviews were first reported by the New York Times.
In another Trump story, the Post reports this:
Shortly after President Trump fired his FBI director in May, he summoned to the Oval Office the bureau’s acting director for a get-to-know-you meeting.
The two men exchanged pleasantries, but before long, Trump, according to several current and former U.S. officials, asked Andrew McCabe a pointed question: Whom did he vote for in the 2016 election?
McCabe said he didn’t vote, according to the officials, who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about a sensitive matter.
Trump, the officials said, also vented his anger at McCabe over the several hundred thousand dollars in donations his wife, a Democrat, received for her failed 2015 Virginia state Senate bid from a political action committee controlled by a close friend of Hillary Clinton.
McCabe, 49, who had been FBI deputy director for a little more than a year when James B. Comey was fired, is at the center of much of the political jockeying surrounding the investigation into potential coordination between Trump associates and the Kremlin. He has for months been the subject of Trump’s ire, prompting angry tweets suggesting that the Russia probe is politically motivated by Democrats sore about losing the election.
McCabe, who has spent more than two decades at the bureau, found the conversation with Trump “disturbing,” said one former U.S. official. Inside the FBI, officials familiar with the exchange expressed frustration that a civil servant — even a very senior agent in the No.?2 position — would be asked how he voted and criticized for his wife’s political leanings by the president.
There is an emerging pattern in all of this, to be sure. Still, speculation continues that Trump will eventually fire Mueller as well. And there are little signs the Republican Party or its Congressional leadership would hold Trump to task. I personally predict that if it ever comes to an impeachment vote, GOPers will ensure Trump is not impeached.”
This belief isn’t simply pulled out of thin air. Former Vice President Joe Biden told Politico that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stopped then-President Barack Obama from calling out the Russians before the elections — refusing to sign a bipartisan statement:
Joe Biden said Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stopped the Obama administration from speaking out about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign by refusing to sign on to a bipartisan statement of condemnation.
That moment, the former Democratic vice president said, made him think “the die had been cast … this was all about the political play.”
He expressed regret, in hindsight, given the intelligence he says came in after Election Day. “Had we known what we knew three weeks later, we may have done something more,” Biden, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, said.
Biden was speaking at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, a block from his old office at the Old Executive Office Building, to discuss his new article in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, “How to Stand Up to the Kremlin.”
Biden said he and former President Barack Obama worried that without a united front of bipartisanship, speaking out before the election would undermine the legitimacy of the election and American institutions in a way that would play into the Russians’ larger ambitions.
“Can you imagine if the president called a press conference in October, with this fella, Bannon, and company, and said, ‘Tell you what: Russians are trying to interfere in our elections and we have to do something about it,’” Biden said. “What do you think would have happened? Would things have gotten better, or would it further look like we were trying to delegitimize the electoral process, because of our opponent?”
McConnell’s office disputed this account, pointing to a letter signed by all four congressional leaders in September 2016 and sent to the president of the National Association of State Election Directors, urging cybersecurity precautions in light of reports of attempted hacking.
That missive, however, did not address Russia specifically, or the larger topic of influence beyond voting systems.
Go to the link and read it in its entirety.
Trump had better tell the truth and nothing but the truth. And much of it will likely be face to face. Mueller does not accept answers to his questions via Twitter. No more games. No more lies. https://t.co/Ul902ihQkW
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) January 24, 2018
Two people close to the WH told me this AM Trump was “absolutely fuming” because Sessions didn’t report back in detail on how his interview went with Mueller’s team. Apparently Trump was “begging” Sessions to tell him what questions were asked & Sessions wouldn’t tell him much.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) January 23, 2018
A broad 78% of Americans say Trump should testify under oath to Robert Mueller if asked — that includes 59% of Republicans, via new @CNN poll.
— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) January 23, 2018
MUELLER JOB APPROVAL from new CNN poll stands at 47/33 — steady since our last poll, despite onslaught of attacks from Trump and GOP allies. (Trump's approval for how he's handling the Russia probe is 33/54.)
— Marshall Cohen (@MarshallCohen) January 23, 2018