Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly "close to completion" of his probe into whether President Trump obstructed justice, as The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump's legal team is working with Mueller to wrap up the Russia collusion investigation.
Bloomberg News reports that Mueller would likely set aside the obstruction probe to complete other facets of the investigation. "That’s because Mueller may calculate that if he tries to bring charges in the obstruction case — the part that may hit closest to Trump personally — witnesses may become less cooperative in other parts of the probe, or the president may move to shut it down altogether."
The obstruction portion of the probe could likely be completed after several key outstanding interviews, including with the president and his son, Donald Trump Jr. The president’s lawyers have been negotiating with Mueller’s team over such an encounter since late last year. But even if Trump testifies in the coming weeks, Mueller may make a strategic calculation to keep his findings on obstruction secret, according to the current and former U.S. officials, who discussed the strategy on condition of anonymity.
Any clear outcome of the obstruction inquiry could be used against Mueller: Filing charges against Trump or his family could prompt the president to take action to fire him. Publicly clearing Trump of obstruction charges — as the president’s lawyers have requested — could be used by his allies to build pressure for the broader investigation to be shut down.
The Bloomberg report follows one from the Journal headlined "Trump Lawyers Seek Deal With Mueller to Speed End of Russia Probe." "... Trump’s lawyers are seeking to negotiate a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that uses an interview with the president as leverage to spur a conclusion to the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the discussions." In return for the interview, Trump would ask the special counsel to set a date "for concluding at least the Trump-related portion of the investigation."
Shortly after the WSJ story appeared, The New York Times over the weekend published a report by Maggie Haberman saying Trump is "in discussions with a veteran Washington lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during the impeachment process about joining the White House to help deal with the special counsel inquiry."
Trump was furious with the story, posting on Twitter:
Both Republicans and Democrats want the Mueller probe to conclude this year so it doesn't affect the 2018 mid-term elections. But there's no word from Mueller or his team whether that timeline is in play.