Trump asked witnesses about special counsel interviews in Russian Federation probe, NYT reports

Donald Trump

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News that President Donald Trump has been talking with witnesses in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe about their testimonies is apparently not sitting well with chief of staff John Kelly.

US President Donald Trump at a White House meeting in Washington February 28, 2018.

The interactions are likely to be used as further evidence that the president obstructed justice - an allegation first leveled against Trump after he fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

The aide, who was none other than former White House staff secretary and alleged domestic abuser Rob Porter, was also reportedly told McGahn could lose his job if he refused to dispute the story.

A witness cooperating with Mueller has told investigators the meeting was set up in advance so that a representative of the Trump transition could meet with an emissary from Moscow to discuss future relations between the countries, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

In January, the Times reported that Trump ordered Mueller to be fired past year, but was stopped after McGahn threatened to resign rather than carry out Trump's order.

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"It makes it look like you're cooking a story, and prosecutors are always looking out for it", said Julie O'Sullivan, a Georgetown University law professor.

She added, "It can get at the issue of consciousness of guilt in an obstruction case because if you didn't do anything wrong, why are you doing that?" Sources tell Fox News the latter conversation included "nothing" of substance and Trump just felt bad Priebus had been questioned for hours. "White House counsels are not the president's personal lawyer". McGahn never issued such a denial.

In January 2017, Erik Prince, the founder of the private security company Blackwater, met with a Russian official close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and later described the meeting to congressional investigators as a chance encounter that was not a planned discussion of U.S. -Russia relations. The White House counsel has always walked a fine line in prioritizing the protection of the Oval Office over the person that occupies it.

During their conversation, Trump asked Priebus if the special counsel's team had been "nice" and if he was treated fairly, according to the source.

"If he said anything along the lines of, 'There's potential criminal liability if you shut down this investigation, ' that would be extraordinarily powerful evidence against Trump".

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