Donald Trump and his ties with Moscow remain the big story here even on a day struck by violence. Another bombshell from “the Washington post.” Quote, 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. So he’s in the crosshairs. Although former director Comey assured president Trump he was not under investigation, officials now say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing. This comes after “The New York Times” reported that the president has been considering firing Mr. Mueller himself, but someone on his staff waved him off the idea warning this would make a bad situation worse.
Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein assured members of congress that Mr. Mueller’s investigation would remain independent. That’s bad news for Trump. Well, as people have said before, it’s often not the crime but the cover-up. And we knew generally that his interactions with Comey were problematic from an obstruction of justice point of view. I’m not saying he obstructed justice, certainly worth investing. What’s novel about this story is there’re also talking to Dan Coats, Admiral Rogers of the NSA and one of Admiral Rogers’ deputies. I’m very intrigued to figure out what they are going to talk about. And what “the Washington post” story does is precisely the opposite.
They’re going at him on a matter that could be impeachable. There is a serious look, a serious investigation into Trump’s conduct about possible attempted obstruction of justice. And, look, a lot of the factual stuff is out there. You know, Comey laid out a lot of facts that he said he was concerned. But he said, ultimately that’s up to Mueller to take a look at. What we’re told is Mueller is in fact taking a look at it. As Glenn pointed out, you know, it’s an interesting part of this that they are going to be taking to, you know, senior intelligence officials about this issue.
Well, technically speaking, Trump can’t be a target in the normal legal sense of the word because justice department policy is that a sitting president can’t be indicted but the point here – that’s a little nicety. The point here is that there is an investigation going on to see if the president may have committed a crime. That’s a pretty big deal. I think that’s a remarkable step in this investigation generally. A key part of this investigation is the firing of Comey itself obviously. And we’re told that it was days after that event that this investigation, looking specifically at the president’s conduct began.
Originally the president didn’t like the investigation into possible collusion and because he was trying to control it and publicly exonerate himself, he took some steps that have now led to this next investigation into possible obstruction of justice that is being led by Mueller. And now he’s certainly not going to like that as Glenn’s story mentioned that night. And likely normally in one of these situations, a traditional president when they are getting investigated for this, they lock down. They have their lawyers do all the speaking for them. But Trump, if history is any indication, is going to try to control this, going to try to get in front of this, and that’s where he could run into even more headaches.
When I looked at the hearings over the last several days, it seemed to me the big missing piece here – and this may be what has changed the story a bit – is that we don’t have any insight publicly into whatever conversations the president had with the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats. Rogers did some closed session. My hunch here is whatever took place in those conversations is going to be pivotal because when you look at what Comey heard form Trump, it raises suspicions. If you find that ultimately the president also asked Coats and other to intervene with Comey, I think it adds a lot of evidence, a lot of weight to the suspicion about obstruction of justice. So I think that may be the new element that we’re seeing emerge. Part of what’s interesting to me about what we’re reporting is that, you know, people have been framing the Comey/Trump dynamic as essentially a he said/he said. What I think is interesting about the current state of the investigation is their trying to figure out, okay, who can corroborate Comey’s version or Trump’s version of events, and they’re looking at frankly senior governments officials who had other conversations with the president on some of these topics. And that’s an important dynamic. There’s not that many one-witness cases in the world. Prosecutors don’t do much with one-witness cases. So what you’re seeing is you’re seeing them gather up a bunch of witnesses and see what the totality of that is. Clearly the white house is attempting to erode Mueller’s credibility