Intelligence officials: Russian interference in U.S. political system ongoing

Intelligence officials: Russian interference in U.S. political system ongoing

Intelligence officials: Russian interference in U.S. political system ongoing

In several inflammatory tweets, Trump escalated his attacks on the investigation, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, that includes examining whether Trump's campaign coordinated with Russian Federation and whether Trump has obstructed the probe.

After railing against Mueller's investigation in a series of tweets, Trump said: "This is a awful situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further". He also called it a "a disgrace to USA".

It was one of his most direct calls to kill the probe into his own campaign, and Democratic leaders, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), condemned it as an "attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight". Trump, who has offered multiple reasons via Twitter for choosing to fire Comey, told NBC News past year that Mueller's Russian Federation investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Moscow drove his decision to oust Comey.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump's tweets are simply the president "fighting back". "The President has expressed the same opinion".

The difficulty in trying to use Trump's tweet to prove obstruction is that he may have posted it for several reasons, including to rally support among his political base, said Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor in NY who now lectures at Columbia Law School.

"These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion - a Hoax!" he tweeted. "After all, nothing will help Trump more than Mueller concluding there is no crime".

In a letter sent Monday, Mueller's team suggested that investigators would reduce the number of questions about potential obstruction of justice they would ask in person and instead seek some answers in written form, according to one person.

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As the Washington Post and others have since reported, the nature of Mueller's reply seems rather Trump-friendly on the surface. He said the timing of the Manafort trial played no role in Trump's views. In a subsequent tweet weighing in on the trial, President Trump again distanced Manafort's alleged criminal activity from his work while serving with Trump's campaign for six months in 2016.

In an interview Wednesday, Trump's lawyers said the president was not ordering Sessions to take any specific action with his latest missive.

"We are not yet seeing the same kinds of efforts to specifically target election infrastructure" as in 2016, Wray said, referring to Russian penetration of voter rolls and other efforts to attack the machinery that collects and tabulates vote counts.

Trump's lawyers have argued that a president can not be charged with obstruction of justice given the sweeping executive powers granted under the Constitution.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called the tweet "highly inappropriate" and dismissed the possibility that Mueller is going to be fired. John Cornyn of Texas, said, "I'm confident we're doing the best we can".

Mueller already is interested in some of Trump's tweets to the extent they raise obstruction of justice concerns.

"In regards to Russian involvement in the midterm elections, we continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States", Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said. "They are ongoing. We haven't reached an agreement yet on any terms of such an interview and I can't predict whether we will reach agreement or not", said Scott Balber, the attorney for the Agalarovs.

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