Special counsel Robert Mueller has informed President Donald Trump’s attorneys that the president is not currently considered a criminal target in the Russia investigation, according to a person familiar with the conversation.
The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and demanded anonymity, said the president is considered a subject of Mueller’s probe — not a target. A subject is typically someone whose conduct is of interest to investigators but prosecutors are not certain they’ve gathered enough evidence to bring charges.
The designation could change at any time, though. The development was first reported by The Washington Post.
Trump’s designation as a subject came up as prosecutors and the president’s legal team have been negotiating the terms of an interview with him. The president has said he wants to speak with Mueller’s team, but his lawyers have not publicly committed to allowing him to be questioned.
Trump attorney Jay Sekulow declined to confirm or discuss the conversations with Mueller.
“We do not discuss real or alleged conversations between our legal team and the Office of Special Counsel,” Sekulow said.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb also declined to comment.
Mueller’s team has signaled that they’re interested in discussing several key episodes in the early parts of the Trump administration as they probe possible obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors have told the legal team they want to question Trump about the firings of former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Investigators want to discuss conversations Trump had with Comey in which the former FBI director has said the president encouraged him to end an active investigation into Flynn. They’re also interested in the events leading up to Flynn’s February 2017 firing.
Investigators have said they want to hear from the president to understand his intent and thinking during those events.