- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2017

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly interested in interviewing four top White House advisers as well as two recently departed top officials as part of his team’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election.

Each of the six advisers the team may seek to interview were witnesses to events significant to the investigation, according to the Washington Post, including President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey and the president’s involvement crafting an initial statement about his eldest son’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer.

Those that Mr. Mueller’s team have expressed interest in interviewing include interim White House communications director Hope Hicks, former press secretary Sean Spicer, former chief of staff Reince Priebus, White House counsel Don McGahn, senior associate counsel James Burnham, and Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works with the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, declined to comment on the interview 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,” Mr. Cobb said.

The White House previously confirmed that Mr. Trump “weighed in” to help craft his son’s response to reports of a meeting last year with a Russian lawyer, and that Ms. Hicks and Mr. Raffel were involved crafting the initial response provided to the press.

The initial statement provided to the New York Times indicated Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting at Trump Tower with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was “primarily” about the issue of Russian adoption. The president’s son later released email correspondence that showed he was promised a Russian lawyer would provide information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

According to the report, Mr. Mueller’s team is also interested in learning more about why the White House kept on former national security adviser Michael Flynn after the Justice Department warned that he had withheld information about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Mr. McGahn and Mr. Burnham were briefed by then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates that the FBI knew Mr. Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his dealings with Russia and his discussions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Mr. Spicer handled communications during the time the White House was issuing responses about Flynn-related matters.

Mr. Preibus and Mr. McGahn may likely also have more information on Mr. Trump’s motivation for firing Mr. Comey.

The White House initially pointed to a recommendation written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and signed off on by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that cited Mr. Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the reason for his dismissal. But Mr. Trump later said he was planning to fire Mr. Comey regardless of the recommendation and that he was thinking of the Russia controversy when he fired the FBI director.

Critics contend Mr. Comey’s dismissal was an effort by the president to undermine the Russia probe. Mr. Mueller was appointed to lead the investigation a week after Mr. Comey’s firing.

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