- President Donald Trump believes the Russia investigation will soon wrap up and that special counsel Robert Mueller will release a letter clearing him of any wrongdoing, CNN reported.
- White House counsel Ty Cobb characterised CNN’s story as “largely false and unprofessional,” but did not respond to requests to clarify whether Trump believes he will be exonerated.
- The investigation has shown no signs of wrapping up soon, and legal analysts and multiple media reports indicate that Mueller is ramping up his focus on Trump and whether he obstructed justice when he fired FBI director James Comey.
President Donald Trump is in better spirits about the FBI’s ongoing Russia investigation, and he reportedly believes special counsel Robert Mueller will soon write a letter clearing him of any wrongdoing, CNN reported Monday.
Mueller was appointed special counsel after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May and is tasked with overseeing the bureau’s probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. He is also looking into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow, and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice when he fired Comey.
Trump has frequently disparaged the Russia probe as a politically-motivated “witch hunt,” but his calmer demeanour could be the result of White House counsel Ty Cobb’s repeated assurances that the investigation will wrap up by early next year.
According to CNN, Trump is convinced enough that he will be exonerated that he is telling friends and advisers that he believes Mueller will say so in a letter, which Trump then reportedly wants to show Washington lawmakers and the public as proof of his innocence.
Cobb told CNN he had “no idea” where Trump got the idea about the letter.
Reached for comment, Cobb characterised CNN’s story as “largely false and unprofessional.”
“As I politely explained to them, everything they asked about was wrong: SPECIAL COUNSEL REPORTS TO DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL WHO THEN PROCEEDS AS HE SEES FIT,” Cobb said in an email.
He did not respond when Business Insider asked him to clarify whether Trump believes Mueller will release a letter exonerating him.
Several legal analyses and media reports indicate that, if anything, the Russia probe is escalating.
Mueller’s office has so far charged four individuals in Trump’s orbit in connection to the investigation: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign adviser and Manafort associate Rick Gates, early foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The special counsel is also said to have ramped up his focus on Trump in recent days, particularly as it relates to whether Trump sought to obstruct justice when he fired Comey.
NBC News reported earlier this month that investigators are focused on the 18-day period between when the White House was first warned that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail, and when he was forced to resign. A Washington Post report also said lawyers for other witnesses in the Russia probe told Cobb that prosecutors asked “detailed questions” about Comey’s firing, which led them to believe Mueller is focusing on gathering evidence around the obstruction question.
Comey was overseeing the Russia investigation when he was dismissed, and his abrupt firing came three months after a private Oval Office meeting in which Trump asked him to consider “letting” Flynn “go.” Flynn was forced to resign after it emerged that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak during the transition period. Comey gave no indication that he would consider Trump’s request and was later fired.
As the investigation gets closer to ensnaring the White House, Trump’s allies and defence team have ramped up calls for a second special counsel to investigate perceived anti-Trump bias and conflicts of interest within the FBI and Department of Justice. But legal experts largely dismissed the calls as “political noise” aimed at distracting from the facts.
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