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US attorney general, CIA director interviewed in Russia probe

  • Published at 09:27 pm January 24th, 2018
US attorney general, CIA director interviewed in Russia probe

United State Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo has been questioned by the US Special Counsel’s office investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign, NBC News reported on Wednesday.

NBC, citing people familiar with the inquiry, did not say when the interview occurred but said one person familiar with the inquiry called Pompeo a “peripheral witnesses” to Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also questioned last week by the special counsel’s office investigating potential collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the US Justice Department said on Tuesday.

The interview marked the first time that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office is known to have interviewed a member of Trump’s Cabinet, and is another milestone in an investigation that has hung over Trump’s year-old presidency.

Discussions between Trump’s personal lawyers and Mueller’s team have been under way about the possibility of an interview with Trump and what the scope of it might be, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Mueller’s office also interviewed former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey shortly after Trump fired Comey in May 2017, a person familiar with the matter said. Comey’s firing led to Mueller’s appointment to take over the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Sessions was the first US senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy and served as a campaign adviser before the Republican president appointed him as the top US law enforcement official.

Trump has openly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia probe last March after media reports that he had failed to disclose 2016 meetings with Moscow’s then-ambassador, Sergei Kislyak.

Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman, confirmed a report in the New York Times that Sessions met for hours with Mueller’s team last week. Prior did not provide additional details. An attorney representing Sessions declined to comment.

Mueller’s team is expected to be interested in meetings between Sessions and Kislyak during the campaign, as well as the attorney general’s involvement in Trump’s firing of Comey, an episode central to the question of whether Trump may have committed obstruction of justice.

Trump shrugged off questions about Sessions’ interview at the White House, telling reporters: “I’m not at all concerned.” His spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined comment on specific interviews but said the White House would not stand in the way of the probe.

“We’re going to be fully cooperative with the special counsel,” Sanders told reporters. “We want to see this come to a complete and full conclusion.”

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