National Security

Mueller seeks to interview Spicer, Priebus and others for Russia probe: report


Special counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly told the White House that his team will seek to interview six senior and former aides to President Trump as part of the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Among those Mueller’s team is interested in interviewing are former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s trusted adviser and interim communications director, Hope Hicks, The Washington Post reports.

Mueller has also signaled that he will seek to interview White House counsel Don McGahn and one of his deputies, James Burnham, as well as Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman who works closely with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

According to people familiar with the probe, each of the six aides was involved in internal discussions related to incidents that have drawn Mueller’s interest, the Post reported, such as Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in May and his delay in dismissing former national security adviser Michael Flynn after the White House received warnings that Flynn had misrepresented the nature of his December discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

{mosads}The current and former Trump aides are also connected to internal documents that Mueller has requested that the White House turn over, sources told the Post.

None of the interviews have yet been scheduled. White House officials expect that the list is not comprehensive and that Mueller will also possibly seek to interview family members, like Kushner.

Politico also reported that the number of White House aides sought by Mueller could reach a dozen — but that no request had been made to interview the president himself. 

The president has repeatedly insisted that he is not under investigation personally, but Mueller’s interest in his current and former aides suggests the extent to which the wide-ranging probe has begun to move closer to the White House itself.

People familiar with the probe told the Post that the names on the list of potential interviewees suggest the areas that have drawn the special counsel’s interest.

On Jan. 26, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates briefed McGahn and Burnham on the FBI’s concerns that Flynn could be vulnerable to compromise by the Russians. She warned them that the FBI had intelligence showing that Flynn had not told the whole truth about his conversations with Kislyak, to either Vice President Pence or the public.

Spicer, meanwhile, told reporters that Flynn and Kislyak had exchanged holiday greetings and discussed the logistics of a call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He made no mention of any discussion of sanctions.

Priebus, as chief of staff, was involved in Trump’s decisions about both Flynn and Comey. According to testimony Comey gave before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June, Trump asked Priebus to leave the Oval Office just moments before he asked the FBI director to drop his investigation into Flynn.

Hicks and Raffel were both involved in discussions about how the White House should respond to questions about a June 2016 meeting that Donald Trump Jr. accepted with a Russian government lawyer offering political dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump reportedly personally dictated the initial statement about the matter, which said the discussion had centered primarily on Russian adoptions. It made no mention of the offer of damaging information on Clinton. 

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