The special counsel investigating Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. elections is now also looking into the possibility that U.S. President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to interfere in the FBI's probe, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
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According to the report, "the move by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s own conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign."
Sources familiar with the matter said that the investigation was opened shortly after Trump fired former FBI director James Comey on May 9, according to the report.
In the wake of Comey's dismissal, the Justice Department named Mueller, a former FBI director, to head a federal probe into the Russia issue.
Responding to the Post's report, the spokesman for Trump's lawyer said the "FBI leak of information regarding the President is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal," news agency CNBC Now tweeted.
Rumors about whether Trump committed obstruction of justice have been circulating after Comey accused the president last Thursday of firing him to undermine the FBI's investigation into possible collusion with Russia.
In the most eagerly anticipated U.S. congressional hearing in years, Comey had told lawmakers the Trump administration had lied and defamed him and the FBI after the president dismissed him on May 9.
Comey, however, would not say whether he thought the president sought to obstruct justice.
"I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning," Comey told the committee.
Trump critics have said that any efforts by the president to hinder an FBI probe could amount to obstruction of justice. Such an offense potentially could lead to Trump being impeached by Congress, although the Republicans who control the Senate and House of Representatives have shown little appetite for such a move.
Reuters contributed to this report.