Senate judiciary probe may review obstruction of justice

Frederick Owens
June 20, 2017

Mueller, who was tasked with overseeing the investigation last month, and his team are now assessing former FBI Director James Comey's recent testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, reviewing Comey's memos documenting his encounters with the president, and preparing to interview certain administration officials-like Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers regarding press accounts of comments the President allegedly made to them about the Russian Federation probe.

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and their son and Barron Trump, walk to Marine One across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 17, 2017, en route to Camp David in Maryland.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel following Comey's ouster in early May.

"The fact of the matter is the president has not been and is not under investigation", Jay Sekulow, a new member of Trump's legal team, said on CBS' "Face the Nation" in one of four interviews he gave on Sunday.

"I do not appreciate you putting words in my mouth when I've been crystal clear that the president is not and has not been under investigation", Sekulow responded.

Trump is under pressure to reveal whether he has any tape recordings of private conversations with Comey. Spicer's comments echo those by Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's attorneys, over the weekend.

The president has denied that he has any nefarious ties to Russian Federation and has also disputed that he has attempted to block the investigation into his campaign's possible role in Russia's election-related hacking. "In May, Sekulow dismissed the Russian Federation scandal as 'a fraud on the American people.'" Sekulow has also personally known Trump for years. Sekulow added that Trump is "very effective" with his use of social media. Trump's tweet seems to confirm that his interactions with Comey now are part of the special counsel's expanding investigation - except that his own lawyer says that is not so. Marco Rubio said Sunday that he does not expect Trump to seek to fire them. Comey did tell Trump he was not personally under investigation, but that was before the director was sacked.

In aggressively worded statements and confrontational TV appearances, Trump's personal lawyers and newly hired proxies have shown themselves more than ready to defend him in the manner to which he is accustomed - with arguments seemingly aimed at public opinion as much as at warding off any actual legal threat from prosecutors.

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At the president's urging, he has been on the offensive, casting doubt on Comey's character and raising questions about whether the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director inappropriately disclosed sensitive material.

The Senate Intelligence Committee say it's only about 20 percent into its investigation.

President Trump continued to refer to what he feels is a "witch hunt" against him in another slew of new tweets Sunday morning, writing that it is a distraction from the rest of his priorities: "The MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt".

As for his publicly recusing himself from the committee investigation while supporting Mr. Trump's firing of Mr. Comey, Mr. Sessions insisted he had not recused himself from his responsibility to lead the Justice Department. He then said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go".

For instance, we know based on Comey's testimony that there may well have been some serious obstruction of justice ahead of the election. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Friday in a statement.

This privilege is both broader in applicability than the presidential communications privilege - since it can apply to conversations within the executive branch that don't involve the president directly - and more limited in its strength.

Senator Angus K of ME said, "A lot of people have asked, when will we be done?"

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