Trump blasts ‘leak’ of list of Mueller questions to president

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized U.S. media reports that U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has compiled a list of more than 40 questions to ask the president as part of his probe into Russia’s election meddling.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Mueller’s list of at least four dozen questions include ones on Trump’s ties to Russia and others to determine whether the president obstructed the inquiry itself, the New York Times reported late Monday. The Wall Street Journal also reported the potential queries.

Mueller is probing Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, whether Moscow colluded with the Trump campaign and if the president has unlawfully tried to obstruct the investigation.

Russia has denied meddling in the U.S. election, while Trump has said there was no collusion and that the probe should end.

“So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media. No questions on Collusion,” Trump wrote in one post on Twitter.

“It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened!” Trump said in another.

Under federal law, obstruction of justice is the act of intentionally impeding judicial proceedings. A crime does not necessarily have to have been proven.

The list of questions do not use the term “collusion” but the questions include what the president knew about Russian hacking, the use of social media and “other acts aimed at the campaign,” according to the Times.

Other questions include, “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?”

Representatives for the Special Counsel’s Office declined to comment on the reported questions.

Most of the questions relate to possible obstruction of justice, according to the reports.

The list includes inquiries about Trump’s firings of former FBI Director James Comey, who headed the Russia investigation before he was dismissed in May 2017, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the Times reported.

Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 after Comey was fired.

The Special Counsel’s office also wants to ask about Trump’s treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a meeting at Trump Tower between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer offering information about his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, among other discussions and events, it said.

Mueller’s investigators have read the questions to Trump’s lawyers, according to the Times, which said it obtained the list from a person outside Trump’s legal team.

The Journal on Tuesday said Trump’s legal team met with Mueller last week to discuss an interview with Trump.

Reporting by Makini Brice and Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Susan Heavey

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