Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating the period during last summer when President Donald Trump looked determined to drive Attorney General Jeff Sessions from his job, according to people familiar with the matter.
After indicting 13 Russian people and three Russian companies for tampering with the US elections, Mueller moved to sew up possible charges that the President or his campaign team engaged in conspiracy with those hostile foreign actors.
Then signs emerged showing that he is aiming for crimes that personally involve Trump, such as obstruction of justice or other crimes related to a cover up effort, money laundering, campaign finance violations and possible actions intentionally designed to benefit the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
People questioned in the probe seem convinced that Mueller has sights on Trump and White House officials are bracing for a constitutional crisis in the event the president fires the special prosecutor to prevent himself from facing an indictment.
Trump refused to implement sanctions on Russia for its illegal influence in the election and he did not respond when Putin aired a video dramatizing how he could subject Florida to a nuclear strike.
Mueller is now assembling a case for criminal charges against Russians who carried out the hacking and leaking of private information designed to hurt Democrats in the 2016 presidential election,
Russian intelligence operatives used hackers to penetrate computer networks and steal emails of both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Trump, while the Republican candidate, cited embarrassing Democratic emails posted at WikiLeaks at least 145 times in the final month of the campaign.
At one point he publicly urged “Russia” to find and release emails Trump believed were missing from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private server.
Intelligence officials released a statement the month before the 2016 election saying they were “confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises” that led to leaked emails being published by DCLeaks.com, WikiLeaks and an online persona known as Guccifer 2.0. — all considered to have been acting as Russian agents.
In July 2016 the FBI began a counterintelligence investigation into how the Russians carried out the operation and whether any Americans, including members of the Trump campaign, were involved.
After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Mueller took over the probe in May 2017.
Mueller’s office has lodged more than 100 criminal charges against 19 people and three companies, securing guilty pleas and cooperation agreements from three members of the Trump campaign.
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