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NYT: Mueller Probe Examining Obstruction Allegations

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IAN MASON

On the heels of the accounts in Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael S. Schmidt at the New York Times reported a new raft of stories involving the early Trump administration’s handling of the Russia investigation Thursday.

The first major category of reporting cites various anonymous sources relaying accounts of the president making remarks or engaging in actions last Spring that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team find suspicious. For example, the report claims:

Mr. Mueller has also been examining a false statement that the president reportedly dictated on Air Force One in July in response to an article in The Times about a meeting that Trump campaign officials had with Russians in 2016. A new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by Michael Wolff, says that the president’s lawyers believed that the statement was “an explicit attempt to throw sand into the investigation’s gears,” and that it led one of Mr. Trump’s spokesmen to quit because he believed it was obstruction of justice.

[…]

Legal experts said that of the two primary issues Mr. Mueller appears to be investigating — whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice while in office and whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — there is currently a larger body of public evidence tying the president to a possible crime of obstruction.

Another story has President Trump “stewing” with White House Advisers Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller before deciding to fire FBI Director James Comey after his May testimony before Congress, at which time he refused to deny the president was under investigation.

The second major focus of the article is the alleged pressure the president and others in the administration put on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from investigations involving Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. White House Counsel Don McGahn is alleged to have been given a direct order from Trump to stop the recusal.

The Times then claims Sessions himself is implicated in a February effort to “undermine” Comey:

Two days after Mr. Comey’s testimony, an aide to Mr. Sessions approached a Capitol Hill staff member asking whether the staffer had any derogatory information about the F.B.I. director. The attorney general wanted one negative article a day in the news media about Mr. Comey, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the episode did not occur. “This did not happen and would not happen,” said the spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores. “Plain and simple.”

Finally, Sessions is alleged to have unsuccessfully tendered his resignation in the wake of a dressing down in the Oval Office after Mueller’s appointment.

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