Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is spearheading the federal Russia inquiry, is scheduled to meet with President Trump’s private lawyers as early as next week, according to a new report.
Those familiar with the matter are optimistic the meeting has greater significance than previous meetings between the Mueller team and Trump’s lawyers because it follows reports that the probe has finished interviewing White House staff, CNN reported Friday. Mueller’s team has not initiated an interview with Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
Although it’s still possible Mueller could request additional documents and more interviews, Trump’s legal team, headed by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, remains optimistic that Mueller’s probe is in the final stages and will conclude in the near future. They consider the meeting an opportunity to gain more insight into what Mueller plans to do next in the investigation.
Additionally, Trump’s team is hopeful because Mueller requested a handful of documents from the White House concerning Trump directly and most of them were related to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. They believe this signals there is not much interest in Trump personally.
The White House staff members Mueller has interviewed include White House counsel Don McGahn, senior adviser Stephen Miller, and communications director Hope Hicks.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates were indicted by a federal grand jury this fall on 12 charges related to the work they did in Ukraine before joining Trump's campaign, including conspiracy against the U.S., tax fraud, and money laundering.
Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty at a federal courthouse hearing last month.
George Papadopoulos, a campaign adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts during the campaign.
Most recently, former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this month for lying to the FBI in January about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Flynn was charged on one count of “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI about communications exchanged with Kislyak shortly after Trump took office.
White House attorney Ty Cobb previously signaled that the Mueller probe could conclude in the near future. He said he would be “embarrassed” if the investigation continued past Thanksgiving, Reuters reported in August.
Trump expressed agitation with the ongoing look into Russian meddling as recently as Tuesday morning, asserting that “Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia,” and said they are exerting their energy on allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Alongside the special counsel probe, there are multiple congressional groups conducting their own Russia inquiries.