U.S. President Donald Trump has pushed his lawyers in recent days to try once again to reach an agreement with the special counsel's office about him sitting for an interview, flouting their advice that he should not answer investigators' questions, three people briefed on the matter have said.
But early on Wednesday morning, Trump committed "an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight", according to California Representative Adam Schiff, 58, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a former federal prosecutor who in 1990, as The Los Angeles Times reported, successfully prosecuted Richard Miller, the first FBI agent ever charged with espionage for passing secret information to Russian Federation, then part of the Soviet Union. Mueller's team is accountable to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, "The president has allowed this process to play out but he thinks it's time for it to come to an end". "The president has expressed the same opinion", Giuliani told Reuters.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said it was obvious to him that Trump's demand of Sessions was obstruction of justice.
In a series of tweets, Trump called it a "TOTAL HOAX" the idea his campaign worked with Moscow.
Trump's lawyers have been negotiating over an interview with Mueller since the end of previous year. "Ongoing obstruction of justice in real time right before our eyes-as Trump's tweets add mounting evidence of criminal intent".
In the wake of the proposal by Mueller's team, Trump stepped up his assault on the special counsel investigation, tweeting Wednesday that the Justice Department should shut it down.
But lying and false claims, as well as "fake news" are nothing new from Trump and his tweets, and it's to be seen how the Manafort trial will evolve with a parade of witnesses planned. First, we know this because the USA intelligence community unanimously concluded that Russian Federation intervened in the 2016 election in order to help Trump win.
The request could reinvigorate legislation that would protect Mueller from being fired without cause. Just as quickly, the White House defended the tweets as expressing Trump's opinion.
An element of Mueller's investigation includes whether Trump or anyone in the campaign tried to obstruct justice.
Manafort served as Trump's campaign chief from May to August 2016 and the president asked Wednesday: "why didn't government tell me that he was under investigation".
"Had Trump directed a recused AG to terminate an investigation into his conduct and the conduct of those around him in private, we would nearly surely deem it a criminal act", says Joyce White Vance, a former federal prosecutor. It would be an arrangement created to shield Trump from providing any evidence of obstruction, and also wipe out several areas of potential perjury when Trump inevitably lied about his conversation with Comey, Flynn, and others.
"It's not a secret: I think he'd like to kill the Mueller investigation any way he can, but I hope this country and particularly its representatives will not follow that", she said.
The US president has said the charges against Mr Manafort "have nothing to do with collusion".