A Washington Post report Tuesday sheds new light on the ongoing negotiations between President Trump’s lawyers and Special Counsel Robert Mueller about a potential Trump interview with Mueller’s team.
Citing two people familiar with Mueller’s intentions, the Post reports that the special counsel would like to ask Trump about the ousting of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and ex-FBI Director James Comey.
It has long been suspected that Mueller is interested in whether obstruction of justice occurred in connection with those departures.
And, according to one Post source familiar with Mueller’s probe, the special counsel also is examining the pressure campaign Trump led last summer when he publicly bashed Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
Mueller has also expressed interest in Trump’s efforts to remove Jeff Sessions as attorney general or pressure him into quitting, according to a person familiar with the probe who said the special counsel was seeking to determine whether there was a “pattern” of behavior by the president.
Trump focused in particular on Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, a move that led to the appointment of a special counsel.
Mueller’s interest in those efforts suggest he is looking at events that occurred after he was appointed special counsel.
Sessions, it so happens, was interviewed by Mueller’s team last week, the Justice Department confirmed to the New York Times. The interview lasted for hours, the Times reported, and Sessions was joined by his personal attorney Chuck Cooper, a Washington, D.C.-based private lawyer.
The Times also reported Tuesday that Comey was interviewed by Mueller’s team last year.
The negotiations over a Trump interview with Mueller are being spearheaded by Jay Sekulow and John Dowd, his personal attorneys. The White House’s attorney for the Mueller probe, Ty Cobb, is advising on the questions that affect the office of the President.
Sekulow and Dowd declined to comment for the Washington Post story, which reported that Trump’s legal team is seeking to offer the President’s answers to Mueller’s questions in a combination of in-person testimony and written statements.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel, also declined to comment in the Washington Post report.
Flynn was fired in February, about a month after it was first reported that he had spoken over the phone with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016, and about three weeks after he gave a misleading interview with FBI about the communication, according to court documents.
The White House said at the time that Flynn was fired because he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Kislyak. But in December Trump tweeted that he fired Flynn for lying to the FBI, as well as to Pence. (Dowd later claimed he had written the tweet.)
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December and has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation since.