Buried in the news yesterday after Rep. Steve Scalise and others were shot by a gunman in Virginia, was a report from the Washington Post that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating President Trump for obstruction of justice. The investigation that had been trying to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign colluded with Russia has shifted into whether the President was acting in any way to impede that investigation.
As the WaPo reports, the probe is widening, as some critics of the Special Counsel feared it would:
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.
According to the last sentence, firing Comey actually ignited the investigation into Trump, which it appeared had been winding down with no real evidence having being uncovered.
Mueller will begin interviewing key players very, very soon:
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.
The President has responded to this report by calling Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt:”
President Donald Trump is telling his Twitter followers that they are witnessing the “single greatest WITCH HUNT in American history.”
The president didn’t clarify what exactly he was referring to in the early morning tweet, however he has frequently described reports about possible ties between members of his campaign and Russia as a “witch hunt.”
Trump writes, “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA” — the acronym referring to his campaign slogan, Make America Great Again.
Earlier Thursday, Trump tweeted that a new report suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller may investigate him for possible obstruction of justice after he fired FBI Director James Comey is a “phony story.”
Witch hunt or not, the Special Counsel has a lot of power and can make life for this administration quite miserable depending on how this story unfolds. Mueller can take the investigation anywhere he sees fit, which can turn into a “witch hunt” of sorts.
Meanwhile, liberal attorney Alan Dershowitz actually came to Trump’s defense in stating he doesn’t believe that Mueller can find any crime committed, according to Mediaite:
Well, during a pretty wild little segment on CNN, famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz let it be known that he doesn’t think Mueller has any jurisdiction when it comes to investigating potential collusion between Trump and the Russians over election interference. Why? Because Dershowitz doesn’t think that is a criminal act.
“Let’s assume that’s true,” he exclaimed. “Show me the criminal statute. I still sit here as a civil libertarian. I don’t want us ever to become what Stalinist Russia became when Stalin was saying, show me the man I’ll find you the crime. What is the crime?!”
When anchor Anderson Cooper brought up there is a difference when it comes to illegal collusion, Dershowitz agreed but said that is all in the purview of politics.
“That’s a political issue,” the lawyer said. “That doesn’t give Mueller jurisdiction. Mueller has no jurisdiction to explore whether he made political mistakes, did terrible things, engaged in wrongdoing. Only criminal conduct!”
Dershowitz’s point basically boils down to the fact that it’s not criminal to be politically inept. You can make plenty of dumb political moves that can cause you lots of trouble, but it doesn’t mean that they’re criminal in nature.