NY Times: Trump spoke to two witnesses about their discussions with the Special Counsel
The New York Times reports that President Trump has spoken to two individuals about their questioning by Special Counsel Mueller. The story says the statements Trump made don’t add up to witness tampering but are still ill-advised:
The special counsel in the Russia investigation has learned of two conversations in recent months in which President Trump asked key witnesses about matters they discussed with investigators, according to three people familiar with the encounters.
In one episode, the president told an aide that the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, should issue a statement denying a New York Times article in January. The article said Mr. McGahn told investigators that the president once asked him to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. McGahn never released a statement and later had to remind the president that he had indeed asked Mr. McGahn to see that Mr. Mueller was dismissed, the people said.
In the other episode, Mr. Trump asked his former chief of staff, Reince Priebus, how his interview had gone with the special counsel’s investigators and whether they had been “nice,” according to two people familiar with the discussion…
Legal experts said Mr. Trump’s contact with the men most likely did not rise to the level of witness tampering. But witnesses and lawyers who learned about the conversations viewed them as potentially a problem and shared them with Mr. Mueller.
The suggestion being made here is that Trump, who is preparing to give his own testimony to Mueller, might be trying to gauge what others have already told him to avoid being caught in a lie. As one law professor told the Times, “It makes it look like you’re cooking a story, and prosecutors are always looking out for it.”
Law Professor Jonathan Turley was asked about the breaking story on Fox News this afternoon and agreed it was “problematic.” “There have been serious problems in minding the line in these types of contacts,” Turley said. He added, “Those types of slips are prolonging this investigation, fueling allegations when we still don’t have a clear crime that is linked to the president.”
So the bottom line here is that what Trump did isn’t illegal but it’s definitely unwise because it makes the Special Counsel focus in on him when, thus far, there’s no evidence he’s done anything wrong. Here’s Turley’s full answer about the NY Times report.