President Trump is exploring steps to curtail Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation into the president’s campaign and business dealings, inching the country closer to uncharted constitutional waters.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Trump’s private legal team is scouring the backgrounds of Mueller and his prosecutors for potential conflicts of interest and damaging information to be used against them. According to the Times, that research is part of a broader effort by Trump to curtail and discredit the former FBI director’s probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
The Times’s account depicted a president who is increasingly angered by the sprawling Russia investigation that has become a central feature of his young presidency. Trump displayed flashes of that anger during a lengthy interview Wednesday with the Times, in which he flitted between channeling his ire towards Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, as well as James Comey, the former director of the FBI ousted by Trump in May.
Trump’s lawyers defended their investigations of Mueller’s team as part of an effort to ensure he stays within the lines prescribed to him by the Justice Department. “The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel’s office and any changes in the scope of the investigation,” Jay Sekulow, the second-in-command of Trump’s private legal team, told the Washington Post. “The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there’s drifting, we’re going to object.”