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Top House Dem: Obstruction should be part of Trump-Russia probe

16 June 2017

The Washington Post, citing unidentified officials, reported on Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the Republican president for possible obstruction of justice.

Also Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley said his panel will investigate the removal of former FBI Director James Comey and "any alleged improper partisan interference in law enforcement investigations".

"She's likely to be under investigation for criminality for a very, very long time to come", Trump said during a October 31, 2016 speech in Warren, Mich.

Accusations of obstruction arose last month when Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

The firing of former Director Comey did nothing to change the course of the investigation.

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"Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, and Richard Ledgett, until recently Mr Rogers' deputy, agreed to be interviewed by investigators", the BBC says. All week, some of Trump's most ardent defenders, including his son Donald Trump Jr., his White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and friend and occasional adviser Newt Gingrich have questioned the probe in similar ways. Mueller's office has taken up that work, and the preliminary interviews scheduled with intelligence officials indicate that his team is actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government.

It's a shift in the FBI investigation, which previously focused on Russian hacking during the election, possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, and possible financial crimes by Trump associates. Last week, Comey testified in a Senate hearing that he believed he was sacked "because of the Russian Federation investigation". Conaway took over as the top Republican on the House Intelligence panel's Russian Federation investigation in April, after committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) recused himself. "We are not in a position to comment further".

Sessions also pushed back against Comey's suggestion he may have failed to take appropriate steps to protect the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief from political pressure.

"We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation s capital is here because, above all, they love our country", Trump said.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Comey had presented no evidence to prove that Moscow meddled in the USA election, adding that Washington had tried to influence Russian elections "year after year".

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The emergence of the obstruction of justice inquiry may make it harder for Trump to have Mueller removed. If - you might remember after Comey's testimony, the President said that he felt vindicated by Comey's statements.

Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that he was certain his firing was due to the president's concerns about the Russian Federation probe, rather than over his handling of a now-closed FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, as the White House had initially asserted. And part of what our story is about is explaining that it's not just a he-said, he-said type of investigation.

Trump called the report "phony" in a Thursday morning tweet.

"The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal", Corallo told CNN.

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Top House Dem: Obstruction should be part of Trump-Russia probe