Washington (AFP) – As special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation gains momentum, two major questions loom over the White House:
– Did members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign collude with Russia to get him elected?
– And did Trump, as president, engage in obstruction of justice?
Here is a look at the two questions:
– Election collusion –
Trump has denied — repeatedly and heatedly — that there was any collusion between members of his 2016 presidential election campaign and Russia.
“There’s been absolutely no collusion,” Trump said over the weekend of a probe he has denounced on multiple occasions as a “political witch hunt.”
US intelligence agencies determined with “high confidence” in a report issued in January that Russia had sought to influence the 2016 race in Trump’s favor.
But the report by the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency and Director of National Intelligence stopped short of stating that Trump’s election campaign had colluded with Russian efforts to get him elected.
That was left to Mueller, a highly respected former director of the FBI, to resolve.
Mueller was named in May by acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein to look into whether there had been “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.”
So far, Mueller’s team has charged four people but none of them has been accused of directly colluding with Moscow to get Trump into the White House.
Retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser, pleaded guilty on Friday of lying to the FBI over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to Washington.
But those conversations occurred in December, after Trump was elected, and do not directly support the charge of collusion with Russia to swing the vote.
In exchange for a single charge and a potentially light sentence, Flynn did agree, however, to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team.
This has led to speculation that Flynn may have more information to provide to investigators about any contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
“If there was coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians I can’t think of a person who would know more about that than Flynn,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told CBS News.
“So it won’t be long before we understand, one way or the other, whether Trump people colluded with Russia because I can’t imagine it happening and Flynn…