Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team interviewed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in recent months about President Trump’s alleged attempt to preemptively conclude their investigation by firing Mueller, CNN reported Friday.
Investigators interviewed Kelly in an attempt to confirm a January New York Times report that indicated Trump ordered then-White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller in June 2017 — an instruction that, if actually issued, may have constituted obstruction of justice.
Citing a number of alleged conflicts of interest, including a dispute over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, Trump demanded that Mueller be fired, but was eventually convinced by advisers that the move would be too costly politically, according to the Times.
While the White House was reportedly receptive to most, if not all, of the special counsel’s previous interview and document requests, White House Counsel Emmett Flood reportedly resisted the request to interview Kelly and stipulated that certain “ground rules” had to be established prior to granting the request.
“In order to question a government official about things that happened during the course of government business, you’ve got to show that it’s highly important and you can’t get it anywhere else,” one source familiar with Flood’s resistance told CNN.
Conflicting reports regarding Kelly’s future in the White House emerged early Friday as CNN reported that his departure was expected in the coming days while The Daily Caller, citing a source familiar with Kelly’s thinking, indicated he has no intention to resign.