Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s team interviewed White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE regarding potential obstruction of justice, CNN reported Friday.
Kelly responded to a narrow list of questions from Mueller over the summer, sources told the network. White House lawyers reportedly rejected Mueller’s request for a full interview.
Kelly, who is reportedly expected to announce his departure from the White House in the coming days, would be the highest-ranking White House official known to have provided information during Mueller’s probe.
The questions Kelly reportedly answered centered largely around an alleged incident in which Trump tried to fire Mueller.
The New York Times reported in January that then-White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit if the president ousted the special counsel, something McGahn did not publicly deny.
Mueller reportedly questioned Kelly about his recollection of the events to see if they corroborated McGahn’s version.
The Mueller request to interview Kelly came shortly after the home and office of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, were raided by the FBI.
Sources told CNN that Trump’s acting White House counsel Emmett Flood wanted to establish “ground rules” regarding Kelly’s questioning.
"In order to question a government official about things that happened during the course of government business, you've got to show that it's highly important and you can't get it anywhere else," the source said.
The White House resistance to Kelly being questioned is notable because the Trump legal team had allowed dozens of former campaign staffers and White House aides to be interviewed as part of the investigation, CNN noted.
Kelly became Trump’s chief of staff in July 2017 after previously serving as Homeland Security secretary.
The president and Kelly have had a tumultuous relationship in recent weeks and are no longer on speaking terms, CNN reported earlier Friday.