U.S. President Donald Trump is assailing reports that the prosecutor investigating Russian meddling in last year’s election is now probing whether he tried to obstruct justice in the case.
“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice,” Trump wrote sarcastically on his Twitter account Thursday.
In a second tweet, Trump said, “You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!”
Trump reacted after several news reports late Wednesday said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller plans to interview key U.S. national security officials about Trump’s comments in seeking an end to the investigation of contacts his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had with Russia’s ambassador to Washington. Trump fired Flynn in February after just 24 days on the job when he learned that Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak.
Based on accounts of people familiar with the investigation, The Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal all said that Mueller plans to interview Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Agency (NSA) Director Michael Rogers and former NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett.
The news accounts said one focus of Mueller’s probe centers on Trump’s conversation with Coats and Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo in late March in which he reportedly asked them to intervene with then Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey to ask him to halt his probe of Flynn.
A day or two later, Trump reportedly called Coats and Rogers to ask them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence that Trump aides had illegally colluded with Russian officials to help Trump win the election.
According to the news accounts, neither Coats nor Rogers complied with Trump’s requests. It was not known whether Ledgett talked with Trump, but he wrote an internal NSA document recounting Trump’s request to Rogers.
Coats and Rogers told a Senate panel a week ago they did not feel pressured by Trump to intervene in the case, but declined to say what Trump asked them to do.
Trump’s attorney slams leakers
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s personal attorney said, “The FBI leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable and illegal.”
The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, criticized the Post story as an “unfounded accusation.”
“There’s still no evidence of obstruction, and current and former leaders in the intelligence community have repeatedly said there’s been no effort to impede the investigation in any way,” she said in a statement.
In May, Trump fired Comey, saying “this Russia thing” was on his mind when he made the decision to oust the nation’s top law enforcement official while Comey was leading the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling.
“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,’” Trump told NBC News. Trump has been dismissive of congressional and criminal probes of Russian interference in the election, saying they were an excuse by Democrats to explain their stunning upset loss to him.
WATCH: Comey on his firing
About a week later, Mueller, another former FBI director, was appointed, over Trump’s opposition, as special counsel to lead the criminal probe. News accounts this week said Trump was considering firing him, but the White House eventually said he does not plan to.
Comey testified before a Senate panel last week that Trump spoke privately with him several times, including by telephone and at White House meetings.
Comey said he believed Trump was trying to get him to drop an investigation of the president’s former national security adviser, and that White House officials spread “lies, plain and simple” to cover up the reason for his dismissal.
“I know that I was fired because something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was putting pressure” on Trump, Comey testified.
The president’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, told reporters immediately after the Senate hearing that Trump “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.”
WATCH: Kasowitz statement on Comey’s assertions