Special counsel Robert Mueller meets with Senate leaders

Adjust Comment Print

Tonight we have some breaking news about the investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 USA elections. This according to a just-released Washington Post report. Welcome to the program.

Former FBI director James Comey told Congress last week he believes he was sacked by Trump to undermine the agency's Russian Federation probe. (That doesn't mean they won't do exactly that, of course.) We are now talking about the President of the United States being investigated for possibly obstructing justice in relation to a criminal probe about a foreign government meddling in our elections for the objective of defeating his Democratic opponent.

All that seems to undermine the rationale for Comey's firing that Sessions says he relied on - Rosenstein's memo that charged Comey acted inappropriately in the handling of the Clinton email investigation. Unless there are tapes of the conversations between Trump and Comey, it would then be a question of whose account is more credible.

On Trump's plane ride home after a trip to Wisconsin, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters he "has no intention" of firing Mueller, even though she maintained that "the president has the right to".

It also quoted an intelligence official who said Mueller's office had asked the NSA for documents related to the agency's interactions with the administration as part of the investigation into Russian meddling into last year's presidential election, and whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Moscow. After Comey's much-watched Senate testimony, the president said in a press conference that he would testify under oath regarding his interactions and conversations with the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Ruddy, who is a friend of the president's, said on PBS Monday, "I think [Trump is] considering perhaps terminating the special counsel..." These are preliminary interviews, which may or may not convince the special counsel to pursue this. How could that be connected to Russian attempts to influence the election? Rosenstein was acting, because Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from acting in the Russia investigation after it was revealed he had held two meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before the November 8, 2016 election.

SHAPIRO: What has the response been from the president and his team?

A spokesman for Trump's private attorney declined to respond to details of the widening probe Wednesday, instead slamming the leaked information as "outrageous, inexcusable and illegal".

Mueller also won votes of support Tuesday from the top two Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both of whom said they have confidence in him. "I will defend the integrity of that investigation".

What are the possible defenses that Trump might raise to the serious evidence that he engaged in obstruction of justice? Justice Department regulations specify that a special counsel can only be removed for "misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause", and that the "specific reason" must be spelled out in writing.

The interviews could come as early as this week, the Post said. But you know, the president is not by any stretch an ordinary suspect or an ordinary defendant in legal terms.