Why Hasn't Robert Mueller Charged Trump with Obstruction of Justice Yet?
Special counsel Robert Mueller is close to wrapping up his investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice — but don’t expect charges right away.
Current and former U.S. officials say Mueller may set aside the obstruction case while he finishes investigating possible Russian collusion and hacking of Democrats, reported Bloomberg Politics.
The obstruction probe could be completed after Mueller and his team interview Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., the officials said.
But the special counsel may wait to bring charges, if any, because witnesses in other cases in the sprawling probe might become less cooperative — or the president could trigger a constitutional crisis by moving to shut down the investigation.
“Any clear outcome of the obstruction inquiry could be used against Mueller: Filing charges against Trump or his family could prompt the president to take action to fire him.” Bloomberg reported. “Publicly clearing Trump of obstruction charges — as the president’s lawyers have requested — could be used by his allies to build pressure for the broader investigation to be shut down.”
The president’s lawyers are negotiating with Mueller’s team about an interview with Trump, who could testify in the coming weeks.
Mueller’s team has already interviewed witnesses who could provide evidence that Trump intended to obstruct justice in the probe — including former FBI director James Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.
The special counsel is focusing on three particular episodes, according to sources.
Mueller is interested in the rainy weekend that Trump and his top aides spent at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, shortly before Comey was fired in May.
The president was joined that weekend by then-deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, senior adviser Stephen Miller, then-White House communications director Hope Hicks, social media director Dan Scavino and his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Mueller is also looking into the creation of a misleading statement about Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian attorney who promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
That statement was crafted on board Air Force One by Trump, Hicks and Kushner spokesman Josh Raffel on the way back to Washington from Germany, where the president met multiple times in private — and in secret — with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Finally, Mueller is keenly interested in Trump’s reported efforts to remove him as special counsel.
Trump has been furious at Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia probe, and his deputy Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel after the president fired Comey.
The president wanted to fire Mueller in June, according to three people familiar with the matter, but White House counsel Don McGahn refused to carry out the order and threatened to resign over the issue.
Mueller has secured the cooperation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents, and briefly interviewed Kushner early in the investigation.
His team has not yet interviewed the president’s eldest son and daughter, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
There’s no indication that Mueller has interviewed the president’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller, who traveled with Trump to Moscow and was at his side throughout the campaign and during the early months of his presidency.