Report: Mueller wants to talk to current and former Trump administration officials
Posted 5:44 p.m. Saturday
Special counsel Robert Mueller is attempting to interview current and former senior Trump administration officials, including former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, as part of the Justice Department's investigation into Russia's efforts to influence last year's presidential election, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing three sources briefed on the discussions.
Mueller, who is spearheading the probe, has made inquiries to the White House for details on specific meetings and is looking into President Donald Trump's decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey in May, the Times reported.
White House special counsel Ty Cobb told the newspaper that the White House would "continue to fully cooperate" with the investigation but declined to comment further. Priebus did not return messages from the Times seeking comment. CNN was not able to independently confirm the newspaper's report Saturday.
Mueller is looking into whether there was any collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russian officials in Moscow's attempt to influence the election. His investigation is in addition to multiple congressional probes into the same matter.
According to the Times, Mueller is interested in whether Priebus and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met on the same day that Manafort -- along with Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law Jared Kushner -- attended a meeting at Trump Tower with Russians who claimed to have harmful information about Hillary Clinton. While Priebus was apparently listed on Manafort's calendar that same day in June 2016, it is unknown if the two men met, the Times reported.
The Times report also says Priebus and Comey met in the White House in early February, a week before Comey said that Trump requested that he halt his investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser. Flynn was asked to resign February 13 -- one day before Comey said his discussion with Trump about Flynn occurred -- after it became public that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he had discussed US sanctions during pre-inauguration phone calls with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
Trump has denied asking Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn. Asked at a White House news conference in June whether he told Comey he hoped the FBI director would let the Flynn investigation go, Trump said: "I didn't say that."
In his meeting with Priebus, Comey told him about a policy at the Justice Department that prohibits talks between the White House and the FBI about ongoing investigations in order to prevent any political meddling in the bureau's work, according to the Times' story. It is not clear whether Mr. Priebus ever delivered that message to Trump, the newspaper reported.
Trump ousted Priebus last month, replacing him with former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as his new chief of staff.