Executive Branch

Mueller reportedly examining Trump's tweets in obstruction probe

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Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking at President Donald Trump’s tweets and negative remarks about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey as part of a probe into obstruction of justice.

According to the New York Times, Mueller wants to know whether Trump’s tweets, statements and interactions amounted to attempted obstruction through witness intimidation and pressure to scale down the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The article is based on information from three people briefed on the matter.

The obstruction probe also reportedly extends to Trump’s criticism of Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director. Mueller’s team is also said to be seeking information about a January incident in which Trump questioned White House counsel Don McGahn about reports the lawyer had told investigators about Trump’s efforts to fire Mueller. McGahn reportedly threatened to quit rather than carry out the firing.

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said Mueller’s look at the tweets is a desperate move. “If you’re going to obstruct justice, you do it quietly and secretly, not in public,” Giuliani told the Times. Trump’s lawyers have also said the president has a right to defend himself on social media.

Mueller’s obstruction inquiry also includes a review of misleading White House statements and possible pardon offers to potential witnesses, the article says.

One hurdle, according to the Times, is the need to prove criminal intent. The special counsel is seeking to question Trump to determine intent, the article reports.

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