By all appearances, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is moving his investigation toward potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump, particularly regarding the possibility that Trump instructed former national security advisor Michael Flynn to lie to senior administration officials, the FBI, or both.
Mueller is trying to determine why Flynn remained in his post for 18 days after Trump learned of Yates' warning, according to two people familiar with the probe. He appears to be interested in whether Trump directed him to lie to senior officials, including Pence, or the FBI, and if so why, the sources said.
NBC sources within the Department of Justice indicated they expected Flynn would be fired immediately upon the news that he had lied to the vice president, but Trump took another course of action.
Instead, Trump fired Yates on Jan. 30, citing her refusal to enforce his executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries from travelling to the U.S. Before she left, however, she made available, at McGahn's request, evidence she had that Flynn had not been truthful about his conversations with Kislyak, according to her congressional testimony.
Trump has consistently denied any attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation, and his personal attorney, John Dowd, recently asserted that the president is not able to obstruct justice in the first place; however, Mueller's thinking does not appear to align with Dowd's remarks.
If Trump knew his national security adviser lied to the FBI in the early days of his administration it would raise serious questions about why Flynn was not fired until Feb. 13, and whether Trump was attempting to obstruct justice when FBI Director James Comey says the president pressured him to drop his investigation into Flynn. Trump fired Comey on May 9.