Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has interviewed White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, she told CNN on Friday.
“The President urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel. I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them,” Sanders said in response to a question from CNN.
The interview is one of the final known interviews by Mueller’s team. It came around the same time as the special counsel interviewed former White House chief of staff John Kelly, well after a number of other senior officials, including former White House communications director Hope Hicks and former press secretary Sean Spicer, were brought in for questioning.
The White House did not immediately agree to grant the special counsel an interview with Sanders, according to one of the sources. Similarly, as CNN reported in December, White House lawyers initially objected to Mueller’s request to interview Kelly, who ultimately responded to a narrow set of questions from special counsel investigators.
While the substance of the interview with Sanders is unclear, one likely area of interest was how Sanders composed statements she made on the podium defending the President regarding the Russia investigation.
As Mueller wraps up his Russia probe, one focus of investigators has been conflicting public statements by President Donald Trump and his team that could be seen as an effort to obstruct justice, according to people familiar with the investigation.
CNN reported last month that prosecutors appear to be examining Trump’s public statements to determine whether anyone sought to influence other witnesses and cause other administration and former campaign officials to make false public statements.
That includes the President’s role in crafting the misleading Air Force One statement in the summer of 2017 on the now infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians attended by Donald Trump Jr., the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
In 2017, Sanders said Trump weighed in on the statement after it was revealed his son, Trump Jr., met with a Russian lawyer in the 2016 meeting.
“The statement that Don Jr. issued is true,” Sanders said at the time. “There’s no inaccuracy in the statement. The President weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.”
Special counsel office spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment.