Trump’s lawyers reportedly building case against Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation
Donald Trump’s lawyers are trying to build a case against an investigation by Robert S. Mueller, a special prosecutor who was appointed to probe links between Russia and the president’s election campaign, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Members of Trump’s legal team are working to undermine Mueller’s investigation by alleging that the special counsel has conflicts of interest with the case.
They’re also trying to discern Trump’s ability to pardon people.
The Post cited anonymous officials familiar with the legal team’s moves; it said that Trump had asked his advisers to see what power he has to grant pardons to various people connected to the probe, including aides, members of his family and himself.
While Trump’s legal team wouldn’t comment on the matter, one individual said Trump is looking to understand the limits of his pardoning powers, as well as Mueller’s investigation.
However, one adviser said, ‘”This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself.'”
The New York Times reported that Trump’s aides are also looking into the “political and professional backgrounds” of people hired by Mueller to carry out the investigation for conflicts of interest that they could use to hinder the special prosecutor’s probe.
Trump told The New York Times in an interview on Wednesday that he was aware of potential conflicts of interest for people on Mueller’s investigative team, and said he would make the information available “at some point.”
He also said Mueller would be going beyond the limits of his investigation if he started looking into matters that weren’t related to the Russia probe, including his own personal finances.
Trump also declined to say precisely what he might do if he felt Mueller’s investigation reached beyond its purpose.
“The president’s making clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a news briefing on Thursday, The Times reported.
According to the Post, lawyers can cite conflicts of interest as possible grounds to remove investigators or special counsel from their posts under Justice Department rules.
The report went on to say that Trump was very uncomfortable with Mueller having access to his tax returns for several years, or the finances of his family.
An adviser to the president told the Post that “if you’re looking at Russian collusion, the president’s tax returns would be outside that investigation.”
The Associated Press reported in June that Mueller’s investigation already included the finances for Trump’s former campaign chairman and would likely include the president’s as well.
Furthermore, Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Mueller had expanded the probe to include the president’s business transactions and some transactions of his associates.
Several reports have likened Trump’s actions against Mueller to the actions taken in the 1990s by the Clintons in light of the appointment of special prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr.
The New York Times said Starr’s probe of former president Bill Clinton began with a look at an Arkansas land deal and ended many years later with a lie about a sexual affair leading to his impeachment.
This development comes on the heels of the resignation of Mark Corallo, the spokesman for Trump’s legal team, who had cautioned against criticizing Mueller publicly, the Times reported.
Mueller was appointed to investigate potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia this past May and has since expanded his investigation to include allegations that the president obstructed justice.
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