President Trump 'investigated over possible obstruction of justice'

Special counsel Robert Mueller meets with Senate leaders

The special counsel investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 election is now also probing whether President Donald Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, The Washington Post said in a report.

Dianne Feinstein says in a letter to Grassley Thursday that Comey should testify as part of the Judiciary panel's separate probe into Russian interference in US elections and possible political interference at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"Mueller is setting up a dragnet of obstruction, financial questions and every aspect of Trump's life and his associates lives", Gingrich wrote on Twitter, adding "very risky".

According to the unnamed sources who spoke to The Washington Post, an obstruction of justice investigation began mere days after Trump fired Comey.

Mr Trump reportedly told Russian officials at an Oval Office meeting a day after sacking Mr Comey that his position had now eased.

In a report published on Wednesday, the paper quoted five people briefed on the requests, saying those who agreed to be interviewed include national intelligence director Daniel Coats, Admiral Mike Rogers who heads the National Security Agency (NSA), and his recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy and it's unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.

The NSA said in a statement that the "NSA will fully cooperate with the special counsel".

The White House has been directing all questions related to this to Mr. Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz. Experts point out that the Supreme Court ruled during the Watergate scandal that officials can not use privilege to withhold evidence in criminal prosecutions.

Taking to #Twitter on Thursday morning, Donald Trump addressed the obstruction of justice allegations by dismissing them as he has the entire Russian investigation. It said Mr Mueller, himself a former FBI Director, had now scheduled preliminary interviews with several intelligence officials on the issue.

The Washington Post said the decision by Mr Mueller to investigate President Trump's own conduct is a major turning point in the investigation, which until recently focused on the Russian angle.

Probing the president for possible crimes is a complicated affair, even if convincing evidence of a crime is found.

However, any findings of criminal activity would put pressure on the Republican-controlled Congress to use them as the basis for launching impeachment proceedings against Trump. Trump disputed, though, Comey's assertion he had asked for a pledge of loyalty.

Comey's firing is a "central moment that's being looked at" in the investigation, Post reporter Devlin Barrett told NPR's Ari Shapiro, "but it's not the only thing". He also said Trump had privately urged him to pull back on the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn - a claim that the president has denied. Pence's office confirmed he had retained Richard Cullen, a former Virginia attorney general and USA attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to assist "in responding to inquiries" from Mueller. The president has accused Comey of lying about those encounters.

Mueller's investigative team has expanded in recent weeks. "That's taken off", Mr Trump said, according to a United States official quoted by the New York Times.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, hinted broadly that the special counsel investigation could be looking at Trump during a House committee hearing on Tuesday.

"I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate", Rogers said. "I will defend the integrity of that investigation".

Law enforcement sources tell CNN that the special counsel is gathering information and considering whether there is evidence to launch a full-scale obstruction investigation. Trump wrote on Twitter, in a pair of messages that ended with a reference to his campaign slogan "Make America Great Again".

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