US Vice President Mike Pence hires personal lawyer over Russia probe

Jun 16, 2017, 08:37 IST | IANS

US Vice President Mike Pence hired a personal attorney to deal with inquiries related to the ongoing probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow

Vice President Mike Pence. Pic/AFP
Vice President Mike Pence. Pic/AFP

US Vice President Mike Pence hired a personal attorney to deal with inquiries related to the ongoing probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Pence on Thursday selected Richmond, Virginia-based attorney Richard Cullen, a chairman at McGuire Woods who previously served as a US attorney, reports Efe news. The office of the Vice President said Pence's decision to hire outside legal counsel was in keeping with his aim to "fully cooperate with any inquiries related to the Russia probe".

"The Vice President is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the president's agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter," said Pence spokesman Jarrod Agen in a statement.

Pence's move comes a day after The Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had extended his probe into determining whether the President tried to obstruct justice by suggesting to top intelligence and law enforcement officials that they end the Russia investigation.

Mueller was named special counsel after Trump abruptly sacked former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) chief James Comey, who afterwards said that the President, before firing him, in effect asked him to "let go" of the probe into the links between fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Kremlin.

Mueller's investigation of the President's conduct is a major watershed in the FBI probe, which over almost the past year has focused on uncovering Moscow's attempts to meddle in, or influence, the 2016 presidential campaign and whether any of Trump's campaign personnel colluded with Russian officials.

Trump had been assured several times privately by Comey starting in January that he was not - at the time - personally under investigation, but officials said "that changed shortly after Comey's firing", reports The Washington Post.

If the report is true and if it is confirmed that Trump obstructed justice by trying to get Comey, and perhaps others, to end the Russia probe, that could lead to the President's impeachment by Congress, something that many Democratic lawmakers say they would pursue if circumstances warrant.

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