US President Donald Trump on Thursday denounced reports that the special counsel appointed to investigate Russian influence in the 2016 presidential campaign is now examining whether he tried to obstruct justice, calling it a "phony story".
The inquiry into possible obstruction of justice, which is a criminal offense in the United States, started days after Trump fired former FBI director James Comey, the Post said, citing anonymous officials, and marks a major turning point in an investigation that began almost a year ago as a probe of signs that Russian Federation was attempting to influence the elections through repeated leaks of Democratic e-mails.
The three officials the Post says Mueller is interviewing are Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and Richard Ledgett, the recently retired deputy NSA director.
The paper, citing unnamed officials, says the interviews could come as early as this week.
Trump critics have said that any efforts by the president to hinder an Federal Bureau of Investigation probe could amount to obstruction of justice.
Comey testified last week that he also felt pressured to drop the Flynn probe.
Trump is not the first president to be subjected to a special counsel investigation, nor the first president to protest it.
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A spokesman for Mueller's team declined to comment.
The Post reports that investigators have also been looking into some of Trump's associates for any evidence of possible financial crimes.
The report stated that Trump was angered when he learned of the relationship and made plans to dump Mueller before being convinced it would be a disastrous move.
Rosenstein told the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday that Mueller would have "the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately" and that he would not follow an order to fire the special counsel "unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders". But Comey was unwilling to state that publicly, citing the fact that the investigation was ongoing and the circumstances could change. "Nice", the President said.
"As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity", he said in a statement released by the White House.
Mueller is overseeing a host of investigations involving people who are or were in Trump's orbit, people familiar with the probe were quoted as saying.