From the outside, it appears that the investigation into the possibility of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia is coming to a close. However, in a twist of events, special counsel Robert Mueller now appears to be investigating whether the President could be charged with Obstruction of Justice related to several matters, not the least of which includes the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
CNN reports on the change in direction and the groundwork being laid for a possible interview between the President and Mueller in coming months:
As President Donald Trump’s reaction to special counsel Robert Mueller grows more irate by the day, attorneys on both sides sat down last week in a rare face-to-face discussion about the topics investigators could inquire of the President. It was the first in-person meeting after several weeks of informal discussions between the two sides, according to two sources familiar with the talks.
Mueller’s team added granularity to the topics it originally discussed with the defense team months ago, like the firing of FBI Director James Comey, according to one of the sources. This time around, for instance, the prosecutors said they would ask about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the Comey dismissal and what Trump knew about national security adviser Michael Flynn’s phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late December 2016.
The meeting makes clear that Mueller’s investigation into contact between Russians and the Trump campaign and other criminal matters isn’t likely to end anytime soon and still may focus on Trump and what he knew. The meeting and its revelations also have unleashed a new level of Trump’s public hostility toward Mueller, even while some of the President’s advisers show a willingness to negotiate Trump’s testimony.
Publicly the President has stated he’d have no problem meeting with Mueller. Privately, however, he’s clearly being advised that such a meeting, without setting parameters ahead of time, is like walking into a lion’s den of legal traps, especially for someone who enjoys talking from the hip.
Just days ago, Trump’s attorney was calling for the special counsel to be dismantled and for the investigation to be closed:
Reached for comment by email about the firing of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Dowd sent The Daily Beast the text of Trump’s most recent tweet on the subject, which applauded the dismissal.
“I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier,” Dowd then wrote.
Without some outside pressure, it appears that Mueller has no intention of slowing down until all avenues have been explored when it comes to finding areas which may be cause for prosecution.
House Republicans, meanwhile, are running block for the President and have declared that their time of investigating Russian collusion has yield no actionable evidence on the matter:
Representative K. Michael Conaway, the Texas Republican who is leading the investigation, said committee Republicans agreed with the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered with the election, but they broke with the agencies on one crucial point: that the Russians had favored Mr. Trump’s candidacy.
“The bottom line: The Russians did commit active measures against our election in ’16, and we think they will do that in the future,” Mr. Conaway said. But, he added, “We disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump.”
How and when Mueller intends to end this investigation is anyone’s guess, but despite claims from Trump’s attorneys to the contrary, it doesn’t appear to be “winding down” anytime soon. Mueller has worked his way up the chain but seems to have come up short on the collusion front. However, there are plenty of process crimes that are still ripe for investigating which means the President’s attorneys are keenly aware of where this could end up if the President isn’t careful.