Special Counsel Robert Mueller III informed President Donald Trump's attorneys last month that he is continuing to investigate the president but does not consider him a criminal target at this point, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
Meanwhile, there are no prohibitions about where Mueller can look, and Chaffetz said he wants to know why the investigation isn't looking into the facts of where the money flows in the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Gowdy said it is unusual for investigators to actually tell subjects whether or not they are "targets" of a probe, but Mueller might have done so because of the sensitive political nature of the case, "a weird hybrid of criminality and politics".
Mueller is compiling a report on Trump's actions and any potential obstruction of justice, which could lay the groundwork for impeachment, if not criminal charges, according to the Washington Post.
Completion of the investigation requires interviewing Trump himself, The Washington Post noted.
Mueller's description of the president's status has sparked friction within Trump's inner circle as his advisers have debated his legal standing.
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U.S. intelligence agencies say Russian President Vladimir Putin himself was behind a hacking and disinformation effort to disrupt the election and boost Trump's chances of winning. Given what we have seen from Mueller and what we know about his staff's political leanings, I view Mueller's statement as comparable to Leopold and Loeb saying they haven't made a decision to kidnap your teenage son, but they're interested in him. Former prosecutor Renato Mariotti explained in a series of tweets: "As a practical matter, federal prosecutors typically don't decide until late in an investigation whether they will charge a person who is under investigation".
Dowd has since left Trump's legal team.
"I think the bigger news is that Mueller has chose to write a report on obstruction", says former Justice spokesman Matt Miller. During the meeting, he also described Trump as a subject of his investigation in the probe.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb also declined to comment, saying the president's legal team does not discuss conversations with the special counsel.
Most constitutional lawyers agree a president can be investigated. Not only could they and their firm be tainted by Trump's controversial politics, but they fear they could be publicly humiliated by Trump the way he has taken to Twitter to belittle Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and his wife. In lieu of an indictment, Mueller could write a report savaging Trump.
However, that does not mean Trump is in the clear, said Chaffetz.
A criminal defense lawyer would be able to help Trump navigate the parameters of an interview and field unexpected questions or downright curve balls, Eliason said. Eventually, O'Brien's lawyers forced Trump to sit for a deposition in 2007.