Donald Trump's Russia troubles just got much more serious

Jeff Sessions

Reuters said that several legal experts said Mr Comey's testimony last week that Mr Trump expected loyalty and had told him he hoped he could drop an investigation of a former top aide could bolster obstruction of justice allegations against the President.

Quoting officials, the Post said one event of interest to Mueller - a widely-respected former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - is an exchange on March 22, when Coats told associates Trump had asked him to intervene with Comey to get him to back off from focusing on Flynn.

The special counsel, who has moved quickly to take full control of the investigation, is reportedly interviewing what the Post described as "senior intelligence officials" as part of what suddenly also is an obstruction of justice investigation.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Mr Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said: "The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal".

"Chris was speaking for himself and did not speak to the president", a White House official told Roll Call in an email late Monday.

It's unclear whether Mueller's team will share with congressional investigators a trove of memos authored by Comey that detail his one-on-one interactions with Trump. The NSA said in a statement: "NSA will fully cooperate with the special counsel".

The news is also more likely to push Trump toward forcing Mueller out as he continues to look for a way to lift the cloud of the Russian Federation scandal that has hovered over the White House since he took office. When the briefing ended, as The Post previously reported, Trump asked everyone to leave the room except for Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Mueller has scheduled interviews with key national security officials about the matter.

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Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the president's requests, officials said. Warner responded that "the criminal piece of the investigation will be handled by the special counsel, but if we find facts we can turn this over to the special counsel" and "report them" to Mueller's office.

Mueller is overseeing a host of investigations involving people who are or were in Trump's orbit, people familiar with the probe said.

Mueller spokesman Peter Carr told NPR's Carrie Johnson, "We'll decline to comment".

Accounts by Comey and other officials of their conversations with the president could become central pieces of evidence if Mueller decides to pursue an obstruction case. He told reporters in a steamy Rose Garden that Comey had lied under oath, saying: "Frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said, and some of the things that he said just weren't true".

Mueller met Wednesday with the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee in an effort to ensure their investigations don't conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says former FBI Director James Comey's acknowledgement that he had given memos of his conversations with President Donald Trump to a friend who leaked them to the media is "weird".

"I think, frankly, our story shows that the president is by no means out of the woods as far as the investigation goes", the Post's Barrett told NPR.

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