Special counsel Robert Mueller is drafting a report about President Donald Trump’s actions in office as part of his ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
Mueller met with Trump’s lawyers in early March to request an interview with the president, saying he needed to ask questions in order to finalize aspects of his investigation, including his determination of whether Trump obstructed justice. Such information would be gathered into a report that would then be sent to officials at the Justice Department.
However, two sources familiar with the conversation said Mueller told the lawyers Trump was not a criminal target at this point.
“They’ve said they want to write a report on this — to answer the public’s questions — and they need the president’s interview as the last step,” one of the sources told the Post.
Mueller reports to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ― since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from Russia matters ― and is required to confidentially share his report with him first. Rosenstein then can decide whether to share it publicly.
It’s unclear if Mueller believes he can indict the president or not, and there is some debate among legal scholars regarding the ability of the Justice Department to do just that.
But Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent, noted on Twitter that if Mueller determined Trump had obstructed justice, the report could eventually be used by Congress, who could then decide whether to launch impeachment proceedings.
Trump has said publicly several times that he’d be willing to meet with Mueller for an interview, going so far as to say he was “looking forward” to it. But some members of his legal team have cautioned him against the meeting and urged him to refuse the special counsel’s request, afraid the president would go off-script.
The president’s lead attorney, John Dowd, who was handling interactions with Mueller, resigned in March, reportedly over disagreements with Trump. Sources told The New York Times and the Post that Dowd felt Trump was increasingly ignoring his advice.