Trump blasts reported obstruction probe over 'phony' Russian Federation story

According to the Post, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, Director of National Security Agency Mike Rogers, and Rogers' former deputy Richard Ledgett agreed to be interviewed by Mueller's team.

The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump's conduct marks a major turning point in the almost 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.

Mr Comey, who had been leading one of several Russian Federation inquiries, testified to Congress last week that Mr Trump had pressured him to drop the inquiry into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Mr Trump previously claimed he was the victim of a "witch hunt" in May after Mr Mueller, a former FBI director, was appointed to lead an investigation into his campaign's alleged ties to Russian Federation.

"It is my view that fully investigating the facts, circumstances, and rationale for Mr. Comey's removal will provide us the opportunity to do that on a cooperative, bipartisan basis", according to the letter.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., right, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., left, listen as Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about his role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian Federation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

If Mueller did find evidence that Trump obstructed justice, the Department of Justice would likely not indict a sitting president. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.

The emergence of the obstruction of justice inquiry may make it harder for Trump to have Mueller removed.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment but has said President Trump's business interests do not violate the country's Constitution.

Republican Senator John Thune defended Mueller's integrity and said he needs to be able to continue to do his job and get to the bottom of the issues.

After Mr Comey's testimony, Mr Trump said he had been vindicated because it was confirmed he had been told on three occasions that he was not under investigation.

The Washington Post, citing unidentified officials, carried the report on Wednesday.

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".

On Wednesday, Trump s lawyer Marc Kasowitz suggested - without providing evidence - that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had leaked details of the criminal probe.

A spokesman for Mr Mueller's team declined to comment on Wednesday.

  • Leroy Wright