Wednesday 19 September 2018

Leak of Mueller questions disgraceful, says Trump

The New York Times has published the nearly four dozen questions to President Trump’s lawyers.

Special counsel Robert Mueller (J Scott Applewhite/AP)
Special counsel Robert Mueller (J Scott Applewhite/AP)

By Darlene Superville, Associated Press

President Donald Trump said it is “disgraceful” that a list of questions the special counsel investigating Russian election interference wants to ask him was “leaked” to the news media.

The New York Times published the nearly four dozen questions given to Mr Trump’s lawyers, covering the president’s motivations for firing FBI Director James Comey last May and contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians.

“It is so disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media,” President Trump tweeted. “No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!”

In a second tweet, President Trump said: “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened.”

The president has repeatedly has called the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller a “witch hunt” and insists there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.

President Trump has also accused Mr Comey of leaking classified information. Mr Mueller was appointed to oversee the investigation by the deputy attorney general after President Trump fired Mr Comey in May 2017.

Although Mr Mueller’s team has indicated to Mr Trump’s lawyers that he is not considered a target, investigators remain interested in whether the president’s actions constitute obstruction of justice and want to interview him about several episodes in office.

Many of the questions obtained by the Times centre on the obstruction issue, including his reaction to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation, a decision President Trump has angrily criticised.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow declined to comment to The Associated Press on Monday night, as did White House lawyer Ty Cobb.

The questions also touch on Russian meddling and whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated in any way with the Kremlin.

In one question obtained by the Times, Mr Mueller asks what President Trump knew about campaign staff, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, reaching out to Moscow.

Mr Mueller has brought several charges against Mr Manafort, but none are for any crimes related to Russian election interference during the 2016 campaign. And he has denied having anything to do with such an effort.

The queries also touch on President Trump’s businesses and his discussions with his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, about a possible Moscow real estate deal. Mr Cohen’s business dealings are part of a separate FBI investigation.

One question asks what discussions Mr Trump may have had regarding “any meeting with Mr Putin,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another question asks what the president may have known about a possible attempt by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to set up a back channel with Russia before Mr Trump’s inauguration.

Press Association

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