russia probe Trump ‘looking forward’ to questioning


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump declared late Wednesday he’s “looking forward” to being questioned – under oath – in the special counsel’s probe of Russian election interference and possible Trump obstruction in the firing of the FBI director.

Trump said he would be willing to answer questions under oath in the interview, which special counsel Robert Mueller has been seeking but which White House officials had not previously confirmed the president would grant.

“I’m looking forward to it, actually,” Trump said when asked by reporters at the White House. As for timing, he said, “I guess they’re talking about two or three weeks, but I’d love to do it.”

He said, as he has repeatedly, that “there’s no collusion whatsoever” with the Russians, and he added, “There’s no obstruction whatsoever.”

The full scope of Mueller’s investigation, which involves hundreds of thousands of documents and dozens of witness interviews, is unknown. And there have been no signs that agents aren’t continuing to work on ties between Trump’s campaign and a Russian effort to tip the 2016 election.

But now that Mueller’s team has all but concluded its interviews with current and former Trump officials, and expressed interest in speaking with the president himself, the focus seems to be on the post-inauguration White House. That includes the firing of FBI Director James Comey and discussions preceding the ouster of White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The timing and circumstances of a Trump interview are still being ironed out. But soon it will probably be the president himself who will have to explain to Mueller how his actions don’t add up to obstruction of justice. And that conversation will be dominated by questions tied whether he took steps to thwart an FBI investigation.

Asked if he thinks Mueller will be fair, Trump replied: “We’re going to find out.” He then reiterated that there is “no collusion.”

In a potential signal of his defense, Trump suggested that he didn’t obstruct – he simply fought back against a false accusation.

So far, witness interviews and the special counsel’s document requests make clear Mueller has a keen interest in Comey’s May 9 firing and the contents of Comey’s private conversations with the president, as well as the ouster months earlier of Flynn and the weeks of conversations leading up to it.

A focus on potential obstruction has been evident almost since Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. And recent interviews with administration officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have shown that Trump is dealing with prosecutors who already have amassed a wealth of knowledge about the events he’ll be questioned about.

Prosecutors have interviewed numerous Trump’s aides including his closest confidants such as White House Counsel Don McGahn, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Sessions, who had urged Comey’s firing, was interviewed for hours, becoming the highest-ranking Trump administration official known to have submitted to questioning. Mueller also wants to interview former adviser Steve Bannon, who has called Comey’s firing perhaps the biggest mistake in “modern political history.”

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