Special Counsel Robert Mueller has overseen the Russia investigation since May 17, 2017 for the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for the Russia Investigation. Mueller has continued to compile evidence against Trump’s associates such as former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Trump tried to fire Mueller in June 2017 citing three potential conflicts of interest. These were a dispute over fees at Trumps golf course, Mueller’s work at a law firm that represented Trump’s son in law and Mueller’s past interview to become FBI Director after Trump fired Comey.
Trump gave the order to fire Mueller to White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II. McGahn refused to send the message to the Justice Department and threatened to resign. He claimed that firing Mueller would cause catastrophic damage to the presidency. Trump subsequently backed off of the idea of firing Mueller. He dismissed the accusation that he attempted to fire Mueller as “fake news.”
Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump Administration obstructed justice and the Russia investigation involve McGahn, as he was involved in many of Trump’s decisions that led to the investigation, such as firing Comey. McGahn believed that firing Mueller would lead to more questions concerning whether the White House is attempting to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation.
Trump’s lawyers uncovered that Mueller’s prosecutors donated to Democrats, despite Mueller’s being a Republican. This accusation that Mueller hired Democrats to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia is unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, it provided Trump with a potential reason to fire Mueller. Trump considered firing Rosenstein and replacing him with U.S. Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand to oversee the Russia investigation. Trump has reduced his attacks on Mueller since he hired Ty Cobb, a veteran Washington lawyer. He met Mueller during their early days in the Justice Department. Cobb encouraged Trump to work with Mueller, a highly respected former FBI Director and prosecutor.
Mueller can subpoena anyone to testify negating Trump’s ties to Russia. Cobb stated that the White House should cooperate with Mueller.
Trump was concerned with the Russia investigation when he fired Comey. He became enraged when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself and Comey refused to stop his investigation. Trump stated that he would fire Mueller if he looked into Trump’s personal finances, but Mueller is authorized to look into anything that could be related to Trump’s alleged Russia ties and obstruction of justice. Republicans have attempted to attack Mueller’s credibility. Trump has agreed to treat investigation fairly but insisted that there was no collusion. Trump has said that he is willing to meet with Mueller under oath to discuss the Russia investigation, but those close to Trump advise otherwise.
Mueller has interviewed various individuals for his investigation. They include MI6 agent Christopher Steele, who created the Steele Dossier, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. His interviews with various White House staffers resulted in indictments of former campaign manager Paul Manafort and campaign official Rick Gates on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and other various financial charges such as unregistered foreign financial accounts and making false statements again the U.S. The expected next steps in the investigation are to meet with Trump and compile charges ranging from money laundering to obstruction of justice. Mueller will gain necessary information from Trump to continue to build his case.
Photo courtesy of The Atlantic.