WASHINGTON – U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller told President Donald Trump’s attorneys in early March that he did not consider Trump a criminal target in the Russia probe “at this point,” The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
During private negotiations about a possible presidential interview, Mueller described Trump as a subject of his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, said the Post, citing three unnamed people familiar with the discussions.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and his former attorney John Dowd did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
The Post said Mueller also told Trump’s lawyers that he was preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice.
“Mueller reiterated the need to interview Trump — both to understand whether he had any corrupt intent to thwart the Russia investigation and to complete this portion of his probe,” the newspaper said.
It said Trump and some in his inner circle interpreted Mueller’s words as assurance that his risk of criminal jeopardy was low, though other advisers cautioned that Mueller was baiting Trump into an interview that could put him in greater legal danger.
Mueller is also investigating potential collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia as well as whether Trump has committed obstruction of justice by trying to thwart the Russia probe.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt.