Obstruction was the case.
That’s the angle Robert Mueller’s team seems to be taking up, as a new report from ABC News tells it.
Specifically, Mueller’s team is now seeking emails and other documents that might reveal what was going on, in relation to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey in May. They’re also looking into why Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.
Issued within the past month, the directive marks the special counsel’s first records request to the Justice Department, and it means Mueller is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation.
Mueller’s investigators now seek not only communications between Justice Department officials themselves, but also any communications with White House counterparts, the source said. Before this request, investigators asked former senior Justice Department officials for information from their time at the department, ABC News was told.
This is where I remind everybody that this particular part of Mueller’s overall investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election wouldn’t even be a thing, had President Trump, himself, not said on national television that he fired Comey because of the “Russia thing.”
He undercut his own people who had the narrative in hand – Comey was fired because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation – nice, neat, and justifiable.
Sitting with Lester Holt the next day, with all the bumbling hubris that he’s built his presidency on, so far, it was Trump who elevated the Russia investigation to its current heights.
He truly can’t get out of his own way.
Due to that one, televised, uncoerced moment, the investigation was no longer simply because of potential interference from Russians working from the outside to influence the course of an election.
Frankly, they do that all the time and all over the world, because they’re always trying to get the upper hand.
No, in that moment, the existing investigation morphed to include an obstruction investigation. Did the newly-elected POTUS attempt to obstruct an ongoing investigation by firing the FBI director?
The insane part is how Trump’s loyalists act like battered wives. They hate how he acts, but they go on the defensive when anyone points out to them that they need to walk away from him.
“You don’t know him like we do! He’s really good to us when we’re alone! He’s just having a hard time, right now.”
Nobody is picking on him. He overinvolved himself in the Russia probe, then amplified the problem because he’s not bright enough to understand what a child would instinctively understand: You don’t even insinuate, much less say outright that you fired a law enforcement official to stop an investigation.
As for Jeff Sessions, he’s ready to meet with Robert Mueller, if necessary, in order to explain his reasons for recusal, a move that put Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in charge, and ultimately led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
Sessions and Rosenstein both drafted letters recommending the firing of Comey, both of which pointed to Comey’s handling of the Clinton email scandal as reason for the firing. And those were the proper response, except it should have been done immediately, not four months into the term, and certainly not after private meetings between Comey and Trump.
In those meetings, Comey insists that President Trump told him that he requires “loyalty.” So now it looks as if not dropping the Russia probe was a sign of disloyalty.
Shortly before firing Comey, Trump secretly drafted a memo laying out his reasons for wanting the FBI chief ousted. The New York Times described it as an “angry, meandering” missive.
The draft memo was never publicly released, but a copy was shared with Rosenstein, who had taken command of the Russia-related probe, according to the Times.
After seeing Trump’s version, that’s when Rosenstein and Sessions drafted their versions and those were the versions the White House went with.
And it all culminated in this investigation we see today.
During a House hearing in June, Rosenstein refused to say whether he consulted with the White House ahead of Comey’s firing or whether anyone asked him to write his memo, insisting such questions “may well be within the scope of the special counsel’s investigation.”
Rosenstein still maintains final supervision over the case, even though he was interviewed by Mueller’s team as a witness for his own role in Comey’s firing.
I don’t know if “consulted” is the right word, but Rosenstein’s actions were initiated after seeing Trump’s version of a letter calling for Comey’s firing.
And there has been a lot of that effort to continuously cover for Trump.
Still, it’s an unusual wrinkle to see Mueller’s team now actively checking into the very government department that employs him.