Yesterday was Donald Trump’s 71st birthday. The Washington Post decided to throw him a special impeachment-themed birthday party by way of a stunning but not surprising exclusive story. The story? Independent Counsel Robert Mueller has expanded the Russia investigation to include interviews about Trump’s possible and probable obstruction of justice. Here are the main thrust:
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.
The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.
Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.
Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said that Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.
WaPo goes on to say that the investigation shifted/expanded in the days following James Comey’s firing, and the days after Trump’s interview with Lester Holt where he said outright that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. Makes sense, because those two things – the firing of Comey and the Holt interview – were widely seen as Exhibit A and Exhibit B in any obstruction of justice charges to come.
Also: remember during the campaign, when Trump was so bratty and child-like that he would literally accuse everyone else of something he did himself? He does that as president too. His current thing is to attack everyone else as being guilty of “leaking” – when he’s actually the biggest leaker, having leaked highly sensitive and classified material to Russian officials. Mark Corallo is the spokesman for Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz, and Corallo responded to this WaPo story with this statement: “The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.” The Washington Post did not claim that this information came from the FBI. A case could be made – and probably will be made – that the information could have easily come from the staffs of Coats, Rogers and Richard Ledgett. Once the FBI and DOJ investigators start interrogating/interviewing people around the president, everybody starts blabbing.
Here’s the statement from the president of the United States on WaPo’s report:
They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2017
“Nice” is the new “Sad!”
Photos courtesy of Getty.