White House staffers have nervously been stocking up on legal counsel at such a clip that the Office of Government Ethics reversed a decades-old rule that banned anonymous donations from lobbyists to the legal defense funds of Trump aides. Now it seems the moment they have been preparing for is nigh, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller circles in on such top officials (some former ones) as Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Hope Hicks, and Don McGahn. This next phase of the Senate’s probe into Russian election interference could start this week.
The staffers’ lawyers have not only been crafting defense strategies, they’ve also reportedly impressed upon their clients the importance of being honest, even if that means being “disloyal” to the POTUS. Mueller also wants to interview staffers who were flying on Air Force One with the POTUS after Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer hit the press. He’s trying to piece together not only whether the Trump team colluded with Russia but also whether Trump committed obstruction of justice when he fired then-FBI director James Comey and national security adviser Michael Flynn.
This next series of interviews come after a slew of recent revelations from sources as diverse as the FBI and Facebook. For one, the Department of Homeland Security announced that at least 21 states were targeted by Russian hackers during the election. Then Facebook admitted that a slew of fake events, pages, and accounts run by Russians actually got Americans to show up to anti-immigrant and pro-Trump rallies in several U.S. cities last year. For another, a Bureau raid on Paul Manafort’s house this summer uncovered documents that suggest he reached out to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska just before accepting Trump’s offer to serve as his campaign manager. Who knows what the upcoming interviews could turn out.