Robert Mueller, appointed by the Justice Department as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia, just confirmed with Republican leadership under questioning that he sees this more as a criminal investigation, and will not treat it as a general intelligence probe.
GOP Senator Lindsey Graham spoke with reporters on Thursday (broadcast on CNN) and said that was the key takeaway leaders received after speaking with him. He repeated the claim, “this is now a criminal investigation.”
Trump has been advised to retain an outside lawyer to help defend himself against any potential charges that may arise.
As special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller will have broad authority to prosecute Donald Trump. Additionally, the letter appointing Mueller specifically authorizes him to examine and prosecute “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
If there’s a criminal investigation that means there is reason to suspect collusion. This is no small announcement. That means there is also probable cause. It also means they may be looking at the issue of obstructing justice.
Trump has stated numerous times that “there was no collusion.” Former Director James Comey is set to release a series of memos he recorded of his conversations with Trump, in addition to the one where he already acknowledged that Trump asked him to end the Flynn investigation. This in and of itself has brought Trump the “obstruction of justice” accusations. And, it’s leading several lawmakers to ask that he be impeached.
If history is any guide, that means Trump is on the line for any misdeeds he may have committed as president – not limited to the Russia investigation. Remember the Ken Starr investigation into President Bill Clinton? It started with the Whitewater scandal and ended up leading to revelations about Monica Lewinsky and his lying about the affair.
Currently, the FBI is investigating the evidence of possible contacts, money transfers and business relationships between several Trump associates and Russian officials. The investigation is wide-reaching.