The Justice Department’s special counsel leading an investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia reportedly told Trump’s attorneys the president is not the target of a criminal probe.
Citing three unnamed sources, The Washington Post reported Tuesday Robert Mueller informed the president’s lawyers in early March the investigation was ongoing, but Donald Trump was not a focus of the inquiry.
According to the sources, the meeting between Mueller and Trump lawyers revolved around the possibility Mueller’s team of investigators interviewing Trump.
During the same meeting, officials with Mueller’s probe also informed Trump the special counsel’s office was in the midst of preparing a report over the president’s actions in office.
Similarly during the meeting, the Post reported Mr. Mueller restated his desire to interview Trump on the matter of potential obstruction of justice “to understand whether he had any corrupt intent to thwart the Russia investigation and to complete this portion of his probe.”
Attorneys for both Mr. Trump and Mueller’s office declined to comment on the report.
President Trump has consistently denied any election collaboration with the Russian Federation and has repeatedly described the investigation as a political witch hunt.
Tuesday’s report comes on the heels of a media announcement by the Kremlin Trump invited Vladimir Putin to the White House during a recent telephone conversation in March, a claim the U.S. administration has not denied. However, the invitation has yet to be accepted by Moscow following a diplomatic row concerning the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England.
Revelations of the early March meeting occurred on the same day Mueller’s office secured its first prison sentence in the probe Tuesday, as U.K.-based lawyer Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days behind bars and fined $20,000 for lying to FBI investigators.
According to court filings, van der Zwaan and former Trump campaign official Rick Gates held a series of phone conversations in 2016 with an unidentified man, described as a former Russian GRU agent.
Court documents revealed the conversations involved payment to van der Zwaan’s law firm for assisting former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. Yanukovich, who leaned toward Moscow, was ousted in a popular uprising in 2014.
[Daily Mail] [Washington Post] [Reuters] [CNBC] [Photo courtesy AP/iStock/Politico]