Trump says he is willing to testify under oath in US-Russia probe

WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would be willing to be interviewed under oath by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

"I'm looking forward to it, actually," Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said of an interview with Mueller. "I would do it under oath."

Although Trump has pledged cooperation with Mueller's probe before, Trump made his assertion as the White House and allies in Congress have stepped up attacks on the investigation's credibility and Trump himself has hedged on whether he would answer questions.

More recently, Trump's attorneys have been talking to Mueller's team about an interview, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. "I would like to do it as soon as possible," Trump said.

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People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe
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People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions 

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former FBI Director James Comey

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump advisor Stephen Miller

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner 

(bBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who compiled the reported Trump dossier 

(Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Sam Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo
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Trump, however, said that setting a date certain for an interview would be "subject to my lawyers and all of that." Asked whether he thought Mueller would treat him fairly, Trump replied, "We're going to find out."

Sources told Reuters earlier Wednesday that senior U.S. intelligence officers including CIA Director Mike Pompeo have been questioned by the special counsel's team about whether Trump tried to obstruct justice in the Russia probe.

Such questioning is further indication that Mueller's criminal investigation into purported Russian interference in the U.S. election and potential collusion by Trump's campaign includes examining the president's actions around the probe.

In his remarks to reporters on Wednesday, Trump repeated past statements that there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia and "there's no obstruction whatsoever."

In interviews last year with Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers, Mueller's team focused on whether Trump had asked them to lean on former FBI Director James Comey, the sources said.

Comey said after he was dismissed by Trump in May that the president had fired him to try to undermine the agency's Russia investigation. His dismissal led to Mueller's appointment to take over the FBI probe and is central to whether Trump may have committed obstruction of justice.

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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
June 7: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominees
June 9: Donald Trump Jr. — along with Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort — meets with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 9: Trump tweets about Clinton's missing 33,000 emails
July 18: Washington Post reports, on the first day of the GOP convention, that the Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces
July 21: GOP convention concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee
July 25: Democratic convention begins
July 27: In final news conference of his 2016 campaign, Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"
August 4: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference. "[I] told him if you go down this road, it's going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy," Brennan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
October 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says his organization will publish emails related to the 2016 campaign
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails
October 7: Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence release a statement directly saying that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election
October 31: "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," Trump says on the campaign trail
November 4: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," Trump says from Ohio.
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Mueller also asked the officials if Trump tried to shut down intelligence investigations into Russian election meddling and into contacts between Russian officials connected with President Vladimir Putin's government and associates of Trump or his campaign, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

Representatives for the CIA declined to comment on whether Pompeo had been interviewed.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the election campaign using hacking and propaganda to try to tilt the race in Trump's favor. Russia has denied it. Trump has denied collusion with Russia and calls the probe a witch hunt. After Comey's accusation in June about the circumstances of his firing, Trump also denied any obstruction of justice.

Former White House strategist and Trump campaign aide Steve Bannon is expected to be questioned by Mueller's team about Flynn and Comey by the end of the month, NBC and CNN reported.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Warren Strobel, Doina Chiacu and James Oliphant; Editing by Frances Kerry and Grant McCool)

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