As special counsel Robert S. Mueller continues his probe into allegations of collusion between the Russians and Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign team, he’s reportedly expressed an interest in speaking to six top current and former advisers to President Trump.
According to the Washington Post, Mueller, who’s investigation is reportedly clashing with Congressional probes into the same matter, said the six people he’s interested in speaking with may have been witnesses to “several episodes relevant to the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.”
Mueller’s probe is meant to determine if any Trump associates coordinated with Russia to influence the election, and has led to questions about whether the president or others in the White House attempted to obstruct justice leading up to the firing of former FBI Director James B. Comey.
Approximately four weeks ago, according to the report, the special counsel’s team “provided the White House with the names of the first group of current and former Trump advisers and aides whom investigators expect to question.”
CNN first reported Mueller’s new line of interest on Thursday but did not name the people with whom Mueller wanted to talk. On Friday, more is known, according to the Post, which says he wants to interview the following people:
- White House communications adviser Hope Hicks
- White House counsel Don McGahn
- McGahn’s deputy, James Burnham
- White House spokesperson Josh Raffel
- Former press secretary Sean Spicer
- Former chief of staff Reince Priebus
All the advisers are believed to have been aware of internal discussions and documents which have drawn the investigators’ interest. The president’s decision to fire Comey in May is one point of interest.
Also, reportedly of interest are conversations regarding allegations that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn withheld information about his private discussions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, the Post claims.
According to the Post:
White House officials are expecting that Mueller will seek additional interviews, possibly with family members, including Kushner, who is a West Wing senior adviser, according to the people familiar with Mueller’s inquiry.
No interviews have been scheduled, people familiar with the requests said. Mueller’s team is waiting to first review the documents, which the White House has been working to turn over for the past three weeks.
People familiar with the probe said the documents Mueller has requested strongly suggest the topics that he and his investigators would broach with the aides.
McGahn and Burnham are reported of interest due to a briefing by then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on Jan. 26. In the briefing, Yates informed them that there were concerns in the Justice Department and FBI regarding Flynn’s Russian contacts.
The president is not protected by attorney-client privilege, the courts have decided, meaning the White House lawyers can offer their testimony about Oval Office dealings to investigators.
Spicer may also be of interest over Flynn, as he is familiar with the White House’s response to the allegations against the beleaguered former adviser.
Priebus, as chief of staff, was privy to many of Trump’s decisions, including those surrounding Flynn and Comey.
Hicks and Raffel were both involved in “internal discussions in July over how to respond to questions about a Trump Tower meeting that Donald Trump Jr. organized with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign in June 2016,” the Post reports.
Several people referenced in the report have refused to comment on it, including Mueller, Spicer, Priebus, and Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer speaking on behalf of McGahn, Burnham, Hicks, and Raffel.
“Out of respect for the special counsel and his process and so we don’t interfere with that in any way, the White House doesn’t comment on specific requests for documents and potential witnesses,” Cobb reportedly said.
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