Kelly warns Trump about talking to Mueller witnesses

Posted at 4:11 PM, Mar 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-08 16:11:35-05

White House chief of staff John Kelly has warned President Donald Trump to be careful about talking to witnesses in the Russia investigation, a White House official told CNN on Thursday.

When asked about a New York Times report that Trump has spoken with former chief of staff Reince Priebus and White House counsel Don McGahn about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, a White House official said: “It’s pretty clear that Kelly admonishes him constantly and he’s not the only one.”

This official described the President’s discussion with Priebus as appropriate.

“There’s nothing wrong with talking someone and saying, ‘Did they treat you well?’ ” the official said.

But this official made it clear that the President’s conversations about the investigation are making top aides inside the White House uncomfortable and potentially putting Trump himself in a legally precarious position.

The special counsel’s investigation is currently one of several probes looking into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump campaign associates have any ties with Russians. As part of his probe, Mueller is also investigating any potential obstruction of justice.

Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.

Trump reportedly asked Priebus if special counsel investigators had been “nice” during his October interview, according to The New York Times, citing two people familiar with the conversation.

Mueller’s investigators are aware of two occasions where Trump asked witnesses about conversations they had with investigators, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing three people familiar with the encounters.

In the other instance, Trump reportedly told an aide that McGahn should put out a statement denying a previous Times report — in which the paper said McGahn told investigators in December that Trump asked him to fire Mueller.