A noteworthy leftover from yesterday’s Sunday shows. There’s hype galore online this morning that this report contradicts WaPo’s bombshell last week (confirmed yesterday by USA Today) that Mueller is investigating Trump. Does it? Here’s ABC’s Pierre Thomas:
Now Mueller faces a huge decision. Does he believe the president, who says there’s no wrongdoing here, or does he go after the president in the way James Comey wants him to do?
Now, my sources are telling me he’s begun some preliminary planning. Plans to talk to some people in the administration. But he’s not yet made that momentous decision to go for a full scale investigation.
And here’s WaPo last week:
The obstruction-of-justice investigation of the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter. Mueller’s office has taken up that work, and the preliminary interviews scheduled with intelligence officials indicate that his team is actively pursuing potential witnesses inside and outside the government.
The interviews suggest that Mueller sees the question of attempted obstruction of justice as more than just a “he said, he said” dispute between the president and the fired FBI director, an official said.
Among the intel officials whom Mueller plans to speak to, allegedly, are DNI Dan Coats and NSA chief Mike Rogers. Both reports agree that Mueller wants to interview people in the administration; both agree that the interviews are “preliminary.” Is the dispute here, then, essentially … semantic? WaPo sees the interviews as the first stage of an investigation; ABC sees them as a prelude to an investigation, not part of the investigation proper. Whatever you want to call it, it sounds like Mueller is concerned about possible obstruction by the president and wants to at least talk to Coats and Mueller about what Trump said to them to see if there’s enough there, combined with what Trump supposedly said to Comey, to go forward.
In lieu of the problematic word “investigation,” which tripped up even an experienced lawyer like Jay Sekulow yesterday, maybe we can agree that Mueller is sniffing around Trump. He hasn’t yet picked up a scent. But he’s interested.