Robert Mueller

Mueller Now Wants to Talk to Reince Priebus

“In a sign that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election will remain a continuing distraction for the White House, special counsel Robert Mueller is in talks with the West Wing about interviewing current and former senior administration officials, including the recently ousted White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Mueller has asked the White House about specific meetings, who attended them and whether there are any notes, transcripts or documents about them… Among the matters Mr. Mueller wants to ask the officials about is President Trump’s decision in May to fire the F.B.I. director, James Comey.”

Mueller Turns Up Heat on Manafort

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is bearing down on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as he directs a wide-ranging probe into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election,” Bloomberg reports.

“Mueller’s team of investigators has sent subpoenas in recent weeks from a Washington grand jury to global banks for account information and records of transactions involving Manafort and some of his companies, as well as those of a long-time business partner, Rick Gates, according to people familiar with the matter.”

“As prosecutors gather many years of information about his financial affairs, Manafort could be dragged deeper into any number of legal disputes. He has a history of doing business with oligarchs and politicians in Ukraine and Russia that predates his political work for Trump, with payments routed through foreign banks and investments in U.S. real estate.”

Trump Has Sent Messages to Mueller

President Trump has publicly called the widening federal investigation into Russia’s election meddling a “witch hunt.” But through his lawyer, Trump has sent private messages of “appreciation” to special counsel Robert Mueller, USA Today reports.

Said Trump chief counsel John Dowd: “He appreciates what Bob Mueller is doing. He asked me to share that with him and that’s what I’ve done.”

He added: “The president has sent messages back and forth.”

Grand Jury Makes It More Difficult to Fire Mueller

James Hohmann: “Last night’s news that Robert Mueller has begun using a grand jury in federal court in Washington, as part of his investigation into possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, further boxes in the president and makes it more politically difficult to justify firing the special counsel.”

“If President Trump ever lost the support of Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), he just might be doomed. A former state House speaker, Tillis is a reliable Republican apparatchik whose vote party leadership can count on. So it was a big deal yesterday when he introduced legislation with a Democratic colleague, Chris Coons (D-DE), to prevent Trump from firing Mueller without cause.”

Mueller’s Job Would Be Protected by Bipartisan Bill

“Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are moving to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s job, putting forth legislation that aims to ensure the integrity of current and future independent investigations,” CBS News reports.

“Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) plan to introduce the legislation Thursday. The bill would allow any special counsel for the Department of Justice to challenge his or her removal in court, with a review by a three-judge panel within 14 days of the challenge.”

Graham Warns Trump Against Firing Mueller

Sen. Lindsey Graham sent a sharp warning to President Trump that it “could be the beginning of the end” of his presidency if he makes moves to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, Politico reports.

Graham pledged to introduce a bill — which he promised would have Republican support and “all the Democrats” — that would mandate that any special counsel established to investigate either a president or his staff can’t be fired “unless you have judicial review of the firing.”

Mueller Expands Probe Into Trump’s Finances

“The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates,” Bloomberg reports.

“The president told the New York Times on Wednesday that any digging into matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump’s businesses have involved Russians for years, making the boundaries fuzzy so Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be taking a wide-angle approach to his two-month-old probe.”

“FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008.”

Trump Says Mueller-Comey Friendship Is ‘Bothersome’

President Trump told Fox News it is “very bothersome” that the man investigating possible ties between his presidential campaign and Russia is good friends with fired FBI director James Comey.

Said Trump: “Well, he’s very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome. But he’s also — we’re going to have to see. I mean we’re going to have to see in terms — look, there has been no obstruction. There has been no collusion. There has been leaking by Comey.”

He added: “But that’s been no collusion, no obstruction and virtually everybody agrees to that. So we’ll have to see. I can say that the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters. Some of them worked for Hillary Clinton. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous, if you want to know the truth, from that standpoint. But Robert Mueller is an honorable man and hopefully he’ll come up with an honorable solution.”

Mueller Hires 13 Lawyers for Investigation

Politico: “Special counsel Robert Mueller has added 13 attorneys — with more still to come — as his investigation quickly expands beyond potential collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign with Russia to potential obstruction of justice case by the president… The prosecution team has experience going after everything from the Mafia and Enron to al Qaeda and President Richard Nixon.”

Mueller Is Investigating Kushner’s Business Dealings

Special counsel Robert Mueller “is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, as part of the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the Washington Post reports.

“FBI agents and federal prosecutors have also been examining the financial dealings of other Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Carter Page, who was listed as a foreign-policy adviser for the campaign.”

For members: Following the Money Could Lead to an Even Bigger Scandal

‘Can’t Fire Him Now’

Jonathan Swan: “Republicans are seizing on a familiar — and for them, distressing — pattern: when President Trump applies unconventional or inappropriate pressure to ‘independent’ public officials, his intervention is often followed by damaging leaks.”

“About an hour after the Washington Post broke the story Wednesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, I started hearing from Republicans who are starting to draw a straight line from Trump’s undisciplined venting to damaging leaks.”

Said one GOP operative close to the White House: “Leak was probably a response to stories about POTUS firing Mueller. Can’t fire him now.”

Why Republicans Are Worried About Mueller

Mike Allen notes that with the Washington Post bombshell report that the obstruction probe is in full swing, White House officials and Republicans sweating profusely for several reasons:

  • “They know Trump talked to countless people about ending the Flynn probe, so they assume Comey’s version of events is true.”
  • “They assume he did, indeed, ask Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, if they could help derail the Flynn probe, as the WashPost reported. They also assume he said similar things to other officials.”
  • “Nobody has privately mounted a straight-faced argument to us that Trump didn’t say this stuff to Comey or to Coats/Rogers. That’s telling in itself. The fact that the Trump public position — that Comey is a perjurer — isn’t being argued in private.”

Also troubling: “Any obstruction probe requires context, which means investigators digging into the finances of Flynn, Trump and Jared Kushner. This is the phase of the probe many Republicans have always feared most.”