Donald Trump has spent much of his presidency obsessing over whether he’s personally under investigation as part of the probe into his Russia scandal. Ironically, the president’s focus grew so intense, he may have taken actions that put him under investigation.Rachel noted on last night’s show the blockbuster new report from the Washington Post.
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.
The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.
The piece added that Trump had received assurances from then-FBI Director James Comey that he wasn’t personally being investigated, but that changed for the president “shortly after Comey’s firing.”
Remember, Trump admitted publicly that he fired Comey, who was leading a counter-espionage investigation into the Russia scandal, because of the president’s dissatisfaction with the probe. He also reportedly leaned on top officials in the intelligence community, asking them to intervene in the matter, adding weight to concerns about Trump’s alleged obstruction efforts.
What’s more, it’s not just the Post. The Wall Street Journal reported that it was Trump’s firing of Comey that is “now a subject of the federal probe … which has expanded to include whether the president obstructed justice.” The New York Times, meanwhile, added that the special counsel “has requested interviews with three high-ranking current or former intelligence officials, the latest indication that he will investigate whether President Trump obstructed justice.”
For months, the Russia scandal has focused on events that occurred before Trump and his team took office in January. These reports point to an important twist: Trump is now the subject of a criminal investigation because of actions he took as president.
All of Trump’s rhetoric about feeling “vindicated” by recent developments suddenly looks quite silly. He is, after all, now one of only a handful of presidents to face a federal investigation, while in office, over actions taken after his inauguration. The other modern examples are Bill Clinton, who was impeached, and Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace before he could be impeached.
Trump World has not yet responded to the allegations specifically. A spokesperson for the president’s attorney said in a written statement, “The FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.” That’s not a denial about the investigation into Trump’s alleged misconduct, and it’s not necessarily true that the information came from the FBI.
For his part, the president whined a bit on Twitter this morning, but Trump also did not deny that after five months in office, he’s facing a criminal investigation.