According to The New York Times, Trump had made requests of a half dozen top Senate Republicans to end the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into his campaign’s role with regard to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Mr. Trump’s requests were a highly unusual intervention from a president into a legislative inquiry involving his family and close aides,” wrote The New York Times.
Among those lawmakers included in the report were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Intel Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC), and Roy Blunt (R-MO), also a member of the committee.
The White House came out in defense of the President, claiming that Trump “at no point has attempted to apply undue influence on committee members’’ and believes “there is no evidence of collusion and these investigations must come to a fair and appropriate completion.’’
His conversations with the Senators, however, suggest otherwise.
Senator Burr told other Republicans that Trump stressed it was time to “move on” from the investigation that has hung like a dark cloud over much of his first year in office. One of the Republicans with whom the North Carolina Senator spoke noted that Trump had been “very forceful.”
“It was something along the lines of, ‘I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible,’” Burr said.
“When we have exhausted everybody we need to talk to, we will finish,” he told Trump.
A Republican official close to the Senate Majority Leader said that Trump “complained frequently to Mr. McConnell about not doing enough to bring the investigation to an end.”
During a flight on Air Force One, Trump pressed Senator Blunt “to wrap up this investigation,” per a source present for the conversation.
During a conversation with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Trump “voiced sharp anger that congressional Republicans were not helping lift the cloud of suspicion over Russia.”
Senate Republicans have reacted to the news with a slew of excuses made on behalf of Trump as a “novice politician.”
“Businessmen are paid to skip things that they think they can skip and get away with,” Burr said, defending Trump’s impropriety that may very well amount to obstruction of justice.
The bombshell report comes on the heels of a rapidly progressing investigation led by the special counselor. So far, charges have been levied against three of Trump’s former aides, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his longtime associate and former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates, and former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos has already pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and has been cooperating with investigators.
Trump’s request to the Senators is reminiscent of the “loyalty pledge” he made to then-FBI Director James Comey, pressing him to end his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” Trump said.
Flynn is still a principal target of the probe.
Yet another obstruction of justice charge is decidedly bad news for an administration already staring down the barrel of this ominous probe. Trump is about to learn firsthand that the nefarious habits from his previous life will not only serve him poorly as President, but may very well land him in prison.