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Trump could answer written Russia probe questions this week: source

(Reuters) – President Donald Trump is expected to provide written answers to questions from the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election as soon as this week, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump visits the Suresnes American Cemetery as part of the Paris commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, France, November 11, 2018. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Pool

The questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Trump is preparing to answer relate only to Moscow’s involvement in the election, and not to whether Trump may have tried to obstruct the Russia investigation, the source told Reuters.

Among the topics covered is a June 2016 meeting between the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., other members of Trump’s campaign team and a group of Russians, the source said.

Trump met with his lawyers this week in anticipation of responding to the questions, according to the source.

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for Trump, declined to comment, as did Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel.

Trump’s lawyers have been negotiating with Mueller’s team since last year over whether he will sit for an interview. That question still has not been settled, the source said on Tuesday.

Last month, Giuliani told Reuters that Trump would be willing to answer questions in writing on whether his campaign had colluded with Moscow to influence the 2016 election, but not whether he had acted to obstruct the Russia probe.

It is not clear whether Mueller may press Trump to try to answer questions on obstruction at some point.

In an NBC News interview last year, Trump tied his May 2017 decision to fire FBI director James Comey to the investigation into Russian election meddling. At the time of his firing, Comey was leading the investigation.

Trump last summer denied knowing about the Trump Tower meeting with Russians who had promised damaging information about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

But Trump dictated a statement from Air Force One about the meeting that Mark Corallo, a former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, viewed as false, a person familiar told Reuters in January. The statement issued by Trump Jr. said that he and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the election to try to tip it toward Trump by undermining Democratic candidate Clinton. Moscow has denied any interference, while Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and any obstruction of justice.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Tim Ahmann; Editing by Sandra Maler and James Dalgleish, Grant McCool


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