Unlike other people interviewed by Mueller having been on the Trump transition team, Kelly joined Trump’s staff much later.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who is reported not to be on talking terms with Donald Trump anymore, was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team as part of the obstruction probe, CNN reported on Friday.
Earlier today reports emerged that Kelly, whose relationship with Trump has taken a turn for the worse, was set to leave the White House in the coming days. It is apparently a mutual decision although Kelly was getting increasingly frustrated with Trump repeatedly bypassing the protocols established by the retired Marine Corps general since taking over as the Chief of Trump’s staff in July 2017.
Now on the heels of reports that Kelly is leaving the White House because his relationship with Trump is no longer “sustainable”, CNN is reporting that Robert Mueller’s team questioned John Kelly in relation to the investigation to find out on whether or not Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI director James Comey. It is a departure of sorts from the other people in Trump’s staff questioned by Mueller’s team in that Kelly was not part of the Trump transition team, and it is therefore believed that Mueller’s team kept the questions restricted to the “obstruction” angle.
Some of the details on what Kelly might have been questioned about have also been reported. For instance, Mueller’s team was most interested in knowing Kelly’s recollection of an episode that reportedly took place after new reports had detailed how Trump had gone about firing Comey.
“The President was angry at then-White House counsel Don McGahn about what had been reported by The New York Times. McGahn had refused to publicly deny the reporting. The special counsel wanted to try to corroborate McGahn’s version of events.”
White House counsel Emmet Flood was reportedly hesitant to let Mueller’s team have an interview with Kelly but finally relented after establishing “ground rules” which stated that the special counsel’s team could only question the retired Marine Corps general on the “obstruction” angle and nothing more.
These developments are coming so thick and fast that Donald Trump is bound to worry about the stakes now. Also on Friday morning, Mueller’s team is set to file sentencing memos on former Trump associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, both of whom have pleaded guilty to several crimes. The report, which is unreleased at the time of writing, has already prompted a vigorous meltdown by the president on Twitter. He accused Mueller’s investigation of being steeped in “conflicts of interest” in a Twitter barrage Friday morning, leading former CIA director John Brennan to characterize Trump’s behavior as “increasingly desperate”.
It seems John Kelly, who has long been dubbed as the voice of reason within Trump’s White House, cannot take it anymore either.
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