President Trump dismissed a potential obstruction of justice investigation into his conduct, calling allegations of collusion between him, his campaign or people associated with him and Russian Federation a "phony story". "Nice", Trump wrote on Twitter, later repeating his accusation that the probe is a "witch hunt".
The Post quoted five people briefed on the requests, saying those who agreed to be interviewed include national intelligence director Daniel Coats, Admiral Mike Rogers who heads the NSA, and his recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett.
Quoting officials, the newspaper said one event of interest to Mueller is an exchange on March 22, when Coats told associates that Trump had asked him to intervene with Comey to get him to back off the focus on Trump's former national security advisor Mike Flynn as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of the Russian Federation affair. MSNBC's Mark Halperin asked Thune during an appearance on "Morning Joe" Thursday, referring to the special counsel in charge of the investigation. He confirmed the Times report from May 11 that Trump asked for his "loyalty" during a dinner in January, and that he had brought up Trump asking to meet with him alone to Attorney General Jeff Sessions but received no reply. It wasn't clear whether he was basing his tweet on direct knowledge or on media reports.
Comey's firing is a "central moment that's being looked at" in the investigation, Post reporter Devlin Barrett told NPR's Ari Shapiro on All Things Considered, "but it's not the only thing".
Last month, Florida International University law professor Elizabeth Price argued in a New York Times op-ed that Trump's statements did not constitute an obstruction of justice.
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Comey, who had been overseeing the bureau's Russian Federation investigation, says he had previously assured Trump he was not personally under investigation.
The letter said the investigation will also probe Comey's testimony that Loretta Lynch, as President Barack Obama's attorney general, had directed him to describe an FBI probe into Hillary Clinton's email practices as merely a "matter" and to avoid calling it an investigation.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Comey had presented no evidence to prove that Moscow meddled in the USA election, adding that Washington had tried to influence Russian elections "year after year".
Comey testified last week that he also felt pressured to drop the Flynn probe.
A spokesman for Trump's lawyer did not refute the notion that Trump was under examination, but decried what he said were leaks that the led to the story.
A spokesman for Mueller's team declined to comment on Wednesday. Had he stuck with the administration line that he fired Comey both because of his poor management of the FBI and his handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation, it's unlikely there would be any grounds for hiring a special counsel.
Second, it suggests that not only is the special counsel's investigation reaching upward in the White House but that is also broadening out from simply an attempt to answer the question of the breadth of Russia's hacking and whether it caught up any Trump officials in it.