Last week, James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that during his time as FBI director—which ended abruptly on May 9—President Donald Trump was never personally under investigation as part of the FBI’s Russia probe. According to the Washington Post, that has changed. In what the paper calls a “major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation,” Trump is now being investigated for possible obstruction of justice, and has been since “days after” Comey was fired by Trump.
The investigation—which began as an inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in those efforts—is being led by former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, who was named as special counsel overseeing the Russia probe by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about a month ago. According to the Post, Mueller and his team “have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates.”
Citing five sources, the Post further reports that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, National Security Agency head Adm. Mike Rogers, and Rogers’ former deputy Richard Ledgett have all “agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week.” The Post previously reported that Trump had called Coats and Rogers and asked them to publicly deny there was any evidence linking the Trump campaign to Russia’s meddling in the election. Both men refused to do so.
The White House had no response to the news, as it has been referring all questions about the Russia investigation to Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz. Kasowitz’s spokesman, seizing on the most important aspect of this development, told the Post that it was “outrageous, inexcusable, and illegal” that anyone was leaking “information regarding the president.”
It is not all that surprising to learn that Trump is now under investigation for obstruction, given what we learned from Comey last week about his interactions with the president as well as Trump’s own public admission that “this Russia thing” was on his mind when he made the decision to fire Comey. Nevertheless, the Post story is a blockbuster, if only because it should silence the Trump camp’s long-held insistence that the president has never been personally under investigation for wrongdoing. The story is also significant in that it comes amid reports that Trump has considered trying to fire Mueller, a step his advisers have apparently talked him out of for the time being.