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More than 20 WH employees quizzed by Mueller

  • Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters following a vote, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. The Senate Judiciary Committee is finishing its investigation into the meeting between Russians and President Donald Trump's campaign in June 2016 — and Grassley wants to release transcripts from closed-door interviews with Trump's son and others. Grassley says he wants to work out an agreement with Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to release transcripts from interviews with Donald Trump Jr. and others who attended the campaign meeting in Trump Tower. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is questioned by reporters as she leaves the Capitol in Washington, Thursday. ap photo



Associated Press
Thursday, January 25, 2018

WASHINGTON — More than 20 White House employees have given interviews to the special counsel in his probe of possible obstruction of justice and Trump campaign ties to Russian election interference, according to a document released Thursday that underscores the breadth of the investigation.

The document, released by President Donald Trump’s attorney John Dowd, details what the White House calls its unprecedented cooperation with Robert Mueller’s investigation, including that it has turned over more than 20,000 pages of records. The president’s 2016 campaign has turned over more than 1.4 million pages.

However, the number of voluntary interviews, including eight people from the White House counsel’s office, also suggests the scope of Mueller’s work so far. And the document confirms Mueller’s interest in the circumstances surrounding two men the president fired: former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

An additional 28 people affiliated with the Trump campaign have also been interviewed by either the special counsel or congressional committees probing Russian election meddling, the document notes. It does not name the people nor provide a breakdown of how many were interviewed by Mueller’s team.

According to Dowd, the White House produced nearly 13,000 pages of documents related to Comey and “issues regarding Michael Flynn and Russia.”

Dowd released his detailed list of cooperation by the White House and the campaign a day after the president said he was looking forward to being questioned by Mueller’s team. Ground rules for that encounter’s content and setting are still being negotiated, but Trump said Wednesday it could occur in two or three weeks.

Separately, transcripts of interviews held behind closed doors in congressional investigations into Russian meddling could soon become public. Those will include the president’s elder son.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Thursday he will work with the panel’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, to release the transcripts of interviews with Donald Trump Jr. and others who attended a June 2016 meeting between campaign officials and Russians at Trump Tower in New York.

“Let’s get them out there for everyone to see,” Grassley said. Feinstein said they also should be turned over to Mueller.

The rare bipartisan move brings the focus, at least momentarily, back to the initial subject of several different congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and whether Trump’s campaign was involved. In recent weeks, many Republicans have pivoted to instead focus on whether the FBI conspired against Trump when it began investigating the campaign, citing anti-Trump texts between two Justice Department officials who were at one point part of special counsel Mueller’s investigation.

Trying to stem some of that criticism, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said Thursday that it had located several months’ worth of text messages the department had previously said it couldn’t find.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a letter to Congress that his office “succeeded in using forensic tools” to recover messages from FBI devices, including those swapped by a counterintelligence agent, Peter Strzok, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page between December 2016 and May 2017.

Strzok was reassigned from Mueller’s Russia investigation following the discovery of anti-Trump text messages he and Page, who was also briefly detailed to Mueller’s team, had shared.

Trump has fumed about the missing messages, saying on Twitter that they represent “one of the biggest stories in a long time.”

Several congressional committees have been reviewing text messages and have been slowly releasing them. Senate Judiciary is one of those panels, and late Thursday, Grassley revealed additional texts in a letter he sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray. In the newly released texts, Strzok and Page discuss the investigation of Hillary Clinton campaign emails and note that she could be the next president.