WASHINGTON - The investigation into ties between President Trump's campaign and the Russian government has now turned to investigating Trump himself for obstruction of justice, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The expansion of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would represent the clearest legal threat to date for Trump, who has long maintained that he is not personally under investigation — and who reportedly pressured former FBI Director James Comey to say so publicly.
The Post, citing unnamed sources, said the investigation into the president's own conduct began shortly after Trump fired Comey on May 9. That prompted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller — himself a former FBI director — as special counsel the following week.
Mueller has scheduled interviews with key national security officials about the matter. They include Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, and his former deputy director, Richard Ledget, the Post reported.
USA TODAY has not independently verified the report.
The White House referred questions to Trump's personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz.
“The FBI’s leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal,’’ said Mark Corallo, spokesman for Trump’s outside legal team. He declined further comment.
But after Comey testified to Congress last week about what he said were Trump's attempts to get Comey to publicly exonerate him, Kasowitz maintained that Trump "was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference."
The news comes one day after Rosenstein affirmed his support for the special counsel, despite recent reports that Trump was weighing Mueller's dismissal.
Rosenstein told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday that he saw no cause for Mueller's dismissal. "Director Mueller is going to have the full independence he needs to conduct that investigation," Rosenstein said
“I appointed him; I stand by that decision,’’ he said. “I will defend the integrity of that investigation."
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