Rosenstein Explicitly Expanded Mueller Investigation to Include Manafort

WASHINGTON - Special counsel Robert Mueller's team of prosecutors has informed President Trump's attorneys that the president is not now considered a criminal target in the Russian Federation investigation, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Gowdy said it is unusual for investigators to actually tell subjects whether or not they are "targets" of a probe, but Mueller might have done so because of the sensitive political nature of the case, "a weird hybrid of criminality and politics".

The special counsel also told Trump's lawyers that he is preparing a report about the president's actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations.

As the Post explains, Mueller may be baiting Trump into sitting for an interview, which no sane lawyer would recommend, by betting that he wouldn't understand the difference between a target and a subject.

Trump, you will recall, was convinced at one time he was not under investigation.

USA intelligence agencies say Russian President Vladimir Putin himself was behind a hacking and disinformation effort to disrupt the election and boost Trump's chances of winning. Ekonomou is a former federal prosecutor and acting US attorney from Atlanta who's well-versed in criminal cases but has no experience with a major Washington investigation.

Gowdy, who won't be seeking reelection in 2018, said he believes Mueller is a fair prosecutor and reiterated that Trump should sit down with the special counsel. In other words, the "subject but not a target" designation is at best for Trump meaningless and at worst a sign he's in jeopardy at any moment of becoming a target.

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Dowd has since left Trump's legal team.

"So all today's news tells us is that Mueller hasn't made a decision to indict Trump at this time".

It's also possible that Mueller sees Trump as a subject rather than target because he has concluded he literally can not indict Trump. And Trump lawyer Ty Cobb declined to comment on the report. "There doesn't appear to be any direct evidence that would justify going after the president as the directive says in the document that (Assistant Attorney General) Rod Rosenstein put forward". In lieu of an indictment, Mueller could write a report savaging Trump.

The president has privately expressed relief at the description of his legal status, which has increased his determination to agree to a special counsel interview, the people said.

Trump has said he wants to speak with Mueller's team, but his lawyers have not publicly committed to allowing him to be questioned. One source said it was a routine discussion to have, and it was then that Trump's lawyers were told that the President can not be a witness because he was involved in some of the matters under investigation.

Wisenberg, who interviewed Clinton about allegations that he obstructed justice, said Trump has handled himself well in previous depositions but should be cautious.

  • Megan Austin