Trump and Kelly reportedly haven’t spoken in weeks…
(Denis Slattery, New York Daily News) White House chief of staff John Kelly was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in recent months, according to a report Friday.
The questioning of Kelly regarding potential obstruction of justice on the part of President Donald Trump comes amid rampant rumors that his tenure in the West Wing is nearing an end.
Influential conservative news site The Drudge Report was one of many reporting that Kelly’s departure was imminent, with some saying the announcement would come as early as Friday, according to the Daily Mail.
CNN reported earlier Friday that Trump and Kelly have not spoken in weeks as tensions between the two have reached new heights.
Trump in the past has acknowledged that he expected Kelly’s tenure would not be indefinite. The two are known to have drastically different management styles, which many wondered how Trump would take to when the Marine Corps. retired general was brought on to implement discipline in the West Wing.
The Daily Mail said it is expected that Kelly will be replaced by 36-year-old Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.
Mueller’s team reportedly grilled the Oval Office gatekeeper about a narrow set of issues related to an episode that took place after reporting emerged about how Trump tried to fire Mueller.
The president was furious when then-White House counsel Don McGahn refused to publicly deny a New York Times report about Trump’s attempts to dismiss Mueller.
It was later reported that McGahn himself cooperated “extensively” with Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling and possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Trump tweeted soon after that McGahn would be leaving his White House.
Kelly, reportedly leaving the White House within the next few days, would be the highest-ranking White House official known to have provided information during Mueller’s probe.
Kelly’s departure has been rumored for months. However, the revelation that he spoke with Mueller’s team may be the tipping point for a president who has labeled the investigation a “hoax” and a “witch hunt.”
The former Marine general’s reported cooperation with Mueller comes as the special counsel’s office is set to potentially reveal details of the Russia investigation—with court-imposed deadlines in two cases against a pair of close aides to the President.
The special counsel and federal prosecutors in New York are filing court memos detailing the cooperation of longtime Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, who has admitted lying to Congress and orchestrating hush-money payments to protect his former boss.
And Mueller’s team will also be disclosing what they say former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort lied about when his plea deal fell apart last month.
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