White House lawyers are reportedly researching the impeachment process in in order to prepare for the possibility that Congress tries to remove President Donald Trump from power.
While White House officials don't think impeachment is a likely scenario given the support the president enjoys among Republicans, lawyers have begun consulting impeachment experts and learning about the procedures, CNN reports, citing sources briefed on the issue.
The White House has since denied the accuracy of the report, stating simply that "it's not true." One attorney with access to White House counsel Don McGahn said he doesn't think McGahn would authorize such activity at this stage.
CNN reports that the impeachment research is part of a larger effort to organize Trump's legal defense, especially in light of the Justice Department's announcement that it had appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the probe into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.
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The White House is also looking into hiring personal attorneys for the president.
On May 23, The Washington Post reported that Trump had urged two of the government's top intelligence officers to publicly declare that there is no evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.
On separate occasions, Trump reportedly asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Director of the National Security Agency Michael S. Rogers to come out against the FBI's investigation.
Coats and Rogers did not oblige the president, telling colleagues they felt the request was inappropriate.
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Trump reached out to the intelligence chiefs after former FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee on March 20. In his testimony, Comey stated that the FBI was looking into "the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts."
The conversation between Trump and Rogers was recorded contemporaneously in a memo drafted by a senior NSA official, according to The Post. This memo, and others like it, may now be shared with special counsel Mueller as well as congressional investigators.
News of Trump's requests to Coats and Rogers is the latest in a string of damaging revelations that appear to show the president attempting to influence the outcome of the investigation into his campaign.
A senior intelligence official told The Post he thinks Trump was trying to "muddy the waters" by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the FBI's probe.
"The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation," another intelligence official said.
Trump's administration has declined to offer information regarding the alleged discussions.
"The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals," a White House spokesperson said in a statement. "The president will continue to focus on his agenda that he was elected to pursue by the American people."