Officials working in the White House are reportedly worried that colleagues may be wearing wires for special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller’s probe into possible connections between President Trump’s campaign and Russian election meddling has caused rising tensions between White House Counsel Don McGahn and Ty Cobb, a lawyer who joined the administration to handle the Mueller probe, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Cobb has urged the administration to hand over as many documents as it can for the special counsel’s probe, while McGahn is worried about precedents that could weaken the White House for future administrations, the report said.
This tension has reportedly led to officials privately saying they thought colleagues could be wearing wires to record conversations for Mueller, according to the Times.
Mueller and his team are investigating Russia’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election, including any potential ties between Trump’s campaign staff and the Kremlin. Mueller is also looking into whether Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey, who was previously leading the Justice Department’s Russia investigation, constitutes obstruction of justice.
Mueller has requested emails and documents related to these matters, and Cobb has organized the requests into 13 categories, but officials would not describe any details. Officials say that, so far, the White House has not turned down any request.
Cobb argues that the administration should include as much as possible when it comes to producing documents and be forthcoming because he insists that Trump did nothing wrong.
McGahn is concerned that this approach could limit any later assertion of executive privilege, according to the Times. He has also blamed Cobb for the slow collection of documents.
One complication that could come up is that McGahn himself is a likely witness, according to the report. Mueller wants to interview him about Comey’s firing and the handling of questions about Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
McGahn has expressed a willingness to meet with investigators, but his lawyer, Bill Burck, has asked Cobb to tell him if the president will use either attorney-client or executive privilege, according to lawyers close to the case.
McGahn could face legal jeopardy or lose his law license should he run afoul of rules governing which communications he can divulge. He did not respond to requests for comment.
BY MALLORY SHELBOURNE – 09/18/17 08:22 AM EDT