Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Politics

Mueller looks to interview six former or current Trump aides

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WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller has alerted the White House that his team will likely seek to interview six top current and former advisers to President Donald Trump who were witnesses to several episodes relevant to the investigation of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, people familiar with the request told the Washington Post.

Mueller's interest in the aides, including trusted adviser Hope Hicks, ex-press secretary Sean Spicer and former chief of staff Reince Priebus, reflects how the investigation that has dogged Trump's presidency is starting to penetrate a closer circle of aides around the president.

Each of the six advisers was privy to important internal discussions that have drawn the interest of Mueller's investigators, including his decision in May to fire FBI director James Comey and the White House's initial inaction following warnings that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had withheld information from the public about his private discussions in December with Russia's ambassador to the United States, people familiar with the inquiry told the Washington Post.

The advisers are also connected to a series of internal documents that Mueller's investigators have asked the White House to produce, the newspaper reported, speaking to people familiar with the special counsel's inquiry.

Roughly four weeks ago, the special counsel's team provided the White House with the names of the first group of current and former Trump advisers and aides that investigators expect to question.

In addition to Priebus, Spicer and Hicks, Mueller has notified the White House he will likely seek to question White House counsel Don McGahn, and one of his deputies, James Burnham. Mueller's office has also told the White House that investigators may want to interview Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

White House officials are expecting that Mueller will seek additional interviews, possibly with family members, including Kushner, who is a West Wing senior adviser, the people familiar with Mueller's inquiry told the Post.

Spicer declined to comment, while Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.

Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer focused on the inquiry, declined to comment on behalf of current White House aides McGahn, Burnham, Hicks and Raffel.

Cobb also declined to discuss the details of Mueller's requests.

"Out of respect for the special counsel and his process and so we don't interfere with that in any way, the White House doesn't comment on specific requests for documents and potential witnesses," Cobb said.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.

No interviews have been scheduled, people familiar with the requests said. Mueller's team is waiting to first review the documents, which the White House has been working to turn over for the last three weeks.

But people familiar with the investigation told the Post that the documents Mueller has requested strongly suggest the topics that he and his investigators would broach with the aides.

CNN first reported on Thursday that Mueller has sought interviews with White House staff related to the preparation of that statement but did not name them.

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