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Trump: Mueller questions leak is disgraceful

President Donald Trump slammed the disclosure of special counsel Robert Mueller's questions for him, calling the leak "disgraceful."

Posted: May 2, 2018 7:20 AM
Updated: May 2, 2018 7:20 AM

Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation began a year ago -- tasked with looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the possibility of officials in Donald Trump's campaign colluding with the Russians.

With the leak Monday night of nearly 50 questions Mueller would like to ask the President as part of the investigation, it's now clear that not only has the scope of Mueller's investigation widened significantly but also that Trump, at least in Mueller's mind, has a lot to explain about his own role in all of it. The language of the leaked questions, by the way, was written by Trump's legal team, but off a list of detailed topics Mueller's team said they would like to ask about.

The leak of Mueller's questions -- which should not be treated as the totality of what he wants to ask -- also lands at a moment in which the White House remains deeply divided about whether or not Trump should sit down for a face-to-face interview with Mueller before the investigation wraps up. Trump himself has at times voiced a willingness to voluntarily sit for an interview -- I explain why I think that is here -- but his legal team has been more skeptical. The leading voice in opposition to Trump granting an interview with Mueller -- John Dowd -- left Trump's legal team in March. CNN's most recent reporting is that he is leaning away from doing an interview since federal agents raided his attorney Michael Cohen's home, office and hotel room.

The sweep of questions that Mueller is seeking to ask Trump may change the President's mind about sitting for an interview with the special counsel.

Here's how New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt, who broke the story, described the nature of the questions:

"They deal chiefly with the president's high-profile firings of the F.B.I. director and his first national security adviser, his treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton."

Trump, via Twitter, immediately seized on the fact that the focus of Mueller's investigation didn't appear to be on his campaign colluding with the Russians.

"So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were 'leaked' to the media," he wrote. "No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see...you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!"

He followed that tweet up with this one -- a variation on a theme: "It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!."

I'm no lawyer -- sorry Mom! -- but those tweets seem like Trump missing the forest for the trees. Trump seems to think that if he and his campaign are cleared of colluding with the Russians -- and we don't know whether or not that will happen -- then he is off the hook entirely. That is, um, not so.

Take Mueller's apparent focus on the firings of former FBI director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn and whether those amount an attempt to obstruct the investigation.

Remember that Trump's explanation on why he fired Comey has repeatedly shifted. He has said it was because of how Comey handled himself in the 2016 election. But he has also said that it had to do with "this Russia thing" in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt. And, Trump reportedly expressed relief to a group of Russian officials in the wake of firing Comey. "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," Trump told the Russians. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."

Trump could very easily be cleared of collusion -- the actual criminal activity would likely be conspiracy or obstruction -- with the Russians and found culpable of attempting to obstruct justice. Trump would have no way of knowing what Mueller knew -- or didn't know -- over the past year of the investigation. Meaning that Trump -- or someone in his inner circle -- could well have been working to throw roadblocks in front of the Mueller investigation because they simply didn't know what he would find and wanted to end and/or discredit the investigation before it got anywhere near where it is today.

Then there are these lines in the Schmidt story about other questions Mueller wants to ask Trump:

"They also touch on the president's businesses; any discussions with his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, about a Moscow real estate deal; whether the president knew of any attempt by Mr. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to set up a back channel to Russia during the transition; any contacts he had with Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser who claimed to have inside information about Democratic email hackings; and what happened during Mr. Trump's 2013 trip to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant."

That's a whole lot of ground. And it shows that Mueller is following the money. The connective tissue in all of those story lines is cash -- whether it's Trump's own, money moving through Michael Cohen or the financial dealings of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It's not clear to me whether Trump's tweets this morning are motivated by a genuine belief that the leaked questions are somehow good for him because collusion is not the main focus or whether he simply doesn't understand that there are lots and lots of questions that Mueller wants to ask about that suggest major challenges ahead for the president and his team.

Regardless of why Trump thinks what he thinks, the main takeaway from the leaking of these questions is that the Mueller investigation is wide and broad -- and that Trump, in Mueller's mind, can shed lots of light on much of it. That is a very big deal.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 441935

Reported Deaths: 5885
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin918591461
Ramsey39405729
Dakota32551324
Anoka30638354
Washington19827221
Stearns17686184
St. Louis13453237
Scott1178693
Wright11485101
Olmsted1024870
Sherburne812364
Carver686636
Clay643278
Rice595266
Kandiyohi551069
Blue Earth533833
Crow Wing476573
Otter Tail449860
Chisago446331
Benton414885
Winona383946
Douglas370366
Nobles364646
Mower358026
Goodhue340757
Polk326754
McLeod321644
Morrison308743
Beltrami305746
Lyon298735
Itasca281143
Becker279438
Isanti279440
Carlton276942
Steele26879
Pine263813
Freeborn237219
Todd230029
Nicollet222136
Brown212334
Mille Lacs211645
Le Sueur206515
Cass203823
Meeker197433
Waseca187515
Martin168226
Wabasha16712
Roseau164916
Hubbard146937
Redwood138527
Renville136139
Houston133213
Dodge13134
Chippewa130632
Cottonwood125118
Fillmore12084
Wadena118214
Rock108511
Sibley10757
Aitkin106633
Watonwan10548
Faribault103214
Kanabec96818
Pennington95915
Pipestone92522
Yellow Medicine92514
Murray8585
Jackson84510
Swift82617
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68114
Lac qui Parle65216
Lake62215
Wilkin6179
Koochiching57910
Lincoln4771
Big Stone4513
Unassigned43568
Grant4247
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36619
Red Lake3154
Traverse2433
Lake of the Woods1741
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300884

Reported Deaths: 4197
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk44949440
Linn17563269
Scott15228161
Black Hawk13552228
Woodbury12896175
Johnson1191749
Dubuque11229148
Pottawattamie8863112
Dallas874169
Story857433
Webster464768
Cerro Gordo458766
Sioux452451
Clinton445461
Warren430637
Marshall424561
Buena Vista389029
Muscatine382275
Des Moines377340
Plymouth347967
Wapello336796
Jasper315955
Lee310828
Marion298852
Jones268949
Henry262130
Carroll252233
Bremer240048
Crawford227622
Boone214116
Washington213531
Benton207543
Mahaska189936
Jackson189631
Tama184757
Dickinson183225
Delaware171136
Kossuth169241
Clay165319
Wright161724
Fayette157022
Buchanan156920
Hamilton156828
Hardin153129
Harrison152961
Winneshiek150819
Clayton149848
Cedar149119
Butler145423
Page143115
Floyd137236
Cherokee137125
Mills135216
Lyon133132
Poweshiek131024
Hancock127924
Allamakee125927
Iowa122122
Calhoun12159
Jefferson118623
Grundy118522
Winnebago117229
Madison11639
Mitchell114634
Louisa113729
Cass111741
Chickasaw110111
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose108838
Union107922
Humboldt103919
Guthrie102124
Shelby101026
Franklin99818
Unassigned9370
Palo Alto8969
Keokuk84225
Montgomery82722
Howard81119
Monroe79918
Pocahontas77211
Clarke7717
Ida73530
Greene6837
Davis68221
Adair68120
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62316
Taylor5889
Worth5873
Fremont5005
Van Buren49112
Decatur4744
Ringgold4229
Wayne41321
Audubon4118
Adams2923
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