Ongoing Russia investigation gets closer to president (Editorial)
What’s the one sentence that White House aides least want to hear? “I’ve got Bob Mueller on the phone for you.” Mueller, of course, is the special counsel who was named to investigate Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election, possible links between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and those efforts, and related matters. Last week, it was reported that Mueller has been looking to interview some who have been very close to the president, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, ex-press secretary Sean Spicer, and communications director Hope Hicks. All had been close to, or were part of, discussions relating to people and matters of interest in the Russia probe. Mueller, a former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is interested in folks who were awfully close to President Donald Trump at important moments. To name but three: The firing in May of James Comey, then the FBI director, who’d been heading the probe of Russian meddling. The failure to do anything, at least initially, after it was learned that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn hadn’t told the truth about his pre-inauguration discussions with Sergey Kislyak, who was then Russia’s ambassador to the United States. The response to news that Donald Trump Jr. had set up a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who’d promised to deliver information that would damage the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. The younger Trump went into the meeting having been told that the details were part of a Kremlin-backed operation to help Trump become president. If Spicer, Priebus and Hicks are able to provide Mueller’s investigators with details about the president’s discussions regarding these matters, and others of interest, they may well be that much closer to building a case against Trump, possibly for obstruction of justice. And along the way, they may be assembling a more complete picture about the various ways that Russia meddled in last year’s election. And who was endeavoring to assist with those efforts. The White House has also been told that Mueller’s team will likely seek to interview White House counsel Don McGahn and one of his deputies, James Burnham. Also on the list of possible interviewees is Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who has worked with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law who is a key trusted adviser. As details of Mueller’s probe leak out, bit by juicy bit, one is left to wonder what’s next. Will Trump’s family members soon enough be interviewed? How about the president himself? It’s important to remember that some of the facts in the case are indisputably clear. Russia sought to influence the outcome of our presidential election. Of that there’s no doubt. Some in Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian operatives. That, too, is known. What’s still a question is how deep those connections go and how broad was their influence. Those hoping to learn the truth can only hope that the upcoming interviews are revelatory.
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