Special counsel Robert Mueller has focused on events since the election — not during the campaign — in his conversations with President Trump’s lawyers, Axios reported Monday.
“That suggests a focus on obstruction of justice while in office, rather than collusion with Russia during the campaign,” the report said.
The report said the top two topics that Mueller has expressed interest in so far are the firings of FBI director James Comey and national security adviser Michael Flynn.
President Trump fired Comey last May, under the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. However, in an interview, Trump said the Russia investigation was also on his mind.
Comey told lawmakers that Trump had asked him to let former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn go — who was under FBI investigation — during a private conversation. The president has denied making any such request.
Comey later admitted he took notes after conversations with the president, and he gave them to at least one friend to pass to the media after he was no longer FBI director, for the purpose of prompting the appointment of a special counsel.
Mueller’s team has been negotiating with White House lawyers to work out the specifics of an interview with Trump within “the next few weeks,” according to Axios.
The “big question” is whether it will be in person, in writing, or a combination of the two.
Kenneth Starr, the special counsel whose investigation led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, told Fox News recently that he did not see any evidence of obstruction of justice by Trump.
“I’ve seen nothing in … the firing of [former FBI Director] James Comey and all of the aftermath that suggest the president has obstructed justice,” he told Fox News on February 28.
The president tweeted repeatedly over the weekend about the special counsel investigation, reflecting his deep frustration over the matter.
If Axios’s report is true, it would mean the president was aware during his tweeting that Mueller’s interest is on obstruction of justice, rather than any alleged collusion.
The president attacked Comey — who is set to launch a book tour next month.
“Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!” he tweeted on Saturday.
Trump also reiterated that there was “no collusion.”
“As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State. #DrainTheSwamp.”
He continued tweeting about the probe into Sunday: “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improerly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!”
On Monday, the president continued: “A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!”
Despite his tweets, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said the president had no intention of firing Mueller.
“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” he said in a statement.