Special counsel Bob Mueller is “going for the kill” in his investigation of President Donald Trump’s possible links to Russia, according to Republicans with close ties to the administration.
According to a report from Axios, Republicans in Trump’s orbit view Mueller’s hiring of lawyers whose experience is in Mafia and money laundering cases as a worrying sign for the White House.
The report also cites Mueller’s “aggressive pursuit of witnesses and evidence” as signs that the investigation is trying to build a case against Trump himself, rather than just those around him.
Mueller is believed to be particularly focused on the events surrounding the firing of FBI Director James Comey, which prompted Mueller’s appointment.
Mueller will be especially interested in the White House’s justification for Comey’s firing. According to The New York Times, Mueller has obtained a “draft” version of a letter Trump’s team wrote justifying Comey’s ouster.
According to The Washington Post, the letter cited Comey’s refusal to say publicly the FBI was not investigating Trump as a reason for the president’s frustration with him.
White House counsel Don McGahn reportedly squashed the letter because it was “problematic” and the administration instead had Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein blame the firing on Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Mueller may use the letter and the events surrounding it to build an obstruction of justice case against Trump, according to Axios.
Mueller is seeking to interview top current and former White House aides, including ousted chief of staff Reince Priebus, former press secretary Sean Spicer, new White House communications director Hope Hicks, and McGahn, The Washington Post reports.
Another area of concern for Trump is his financial dealings with Russia.
Trump infamously warned Mueller to not cross a red line and investigate his business dealings, which is exactly what Mueller is now investigating.
Documents obtained by CNN show that the Trump Organization sent a letter of intent to negotiate a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
The deal was spear-headed by Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.
According to Axios, Cohen’s involvement is especially “worrisome” because he often deals with “colorful characters.” The report notes that as the deal is investigated, “other questionable Russian characters may be drawn in.”
The investigation goes far beyond just the president, however. Trump’s family members have become increasingly toxic as a result of their own dealings with Russia, even leading some of Trump’s lawyers to conclude that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, should resign from his White House job this summer, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Trump’s lawyers were reportedly concerned about Kushner because he was “the adviser closest to the president who had the most dealings with Russian officials and businesspeople during the campaign and transition.”
Trump’s son, Don Jr., is also under the microscope over his constantly-evolving story about why he met with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer at Trump Tower last year.
Trump Jr. initially insisted the meeting was merely about Russia’s ban on adoptions in retaliation for US sanctions. He later admitted he attended the meeting because he was promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, according to The New York Times.
Kushner and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended the meeting.