Special counsel seeks documents from Trump presidency

Last Updated Sep 20, 2017 9:18 PM EDT

CBS News has confirmed special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House for documents relating to President Trump's actions since taking office.

Sources with direct knowledge of the Mueller inquiry and its current request for documents confirm the documents are tied to former national security adviser Michael Flynn's firing, CBS News' Major Garrett reports. The documents are also tied to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, an Oval Office meeting between a Mr. Trump with Russian officials and any White House involvement in Mr. Trump's son Donald Trump Jr.'s campaign meeting with various Russians in 2016.

The sources said the requests were in the hands of the White House for several weeks and there has been a energetic effort bordering on frantic to comply with the investigators' request for relevant documents.

The pursuit of responsive documents has strained relations among some White House attorneys with some lawyers -- chief among them Ty Cobb -- pushing for full disclosure in hopes of expediting the end of the probe and others, led by White House Counsel Don McGahn, seeking to evaluate each document release through the institutional lens of protecting presidential prerogatives now and in the future.

The disclosure of Mueller's specific requests has rattled the White House legal team. But these two camps are in agreement in what they perceive will be the likely outcome of Mueller's probe -- that it will not yield any charges against the president or top officials.

"There have been leaks in this story," said one source close to the White House process. "It is fair to say this one did not come from Mueller's side. And this is not helpful to the White House. It rattles people."

Extracting positive implications of the Mueller probe has been a challenge for those sympathetic to the White House. The interpretation after this disclosure is that Mueller's team is, in terms of its White House engagement, staying within the scope of the Russia election probe and not seeking documents about past financial transactions, documents or business relationships.

The White House and Cobb declined to comment on any specifics of the Mueller investigation. Cobb merely repeated his long-standing pledge that the White House will "respect the integrity" Mueller's investigation and "cooperate fully."

Mueller's request was first reported by The New York Times.

The request for documents from Mr. Trump's time as president represents a shift in the inquiry's focus to Mr. Trump's behavior since starting his term in the White House.

The Times reported that in recent weeks, the special counsel has requested information on 13 different areas Mueller's team hopes to investigate. In response, Trump administration lawyers have begun searching through emails and seeking other documents relating to Mueller's request.

Cobb, Mr. Trump's lawyer responsible for managing the multiple Russia investigations led by congressional committees, intelligence agencies and the special counsel, told Mueller's office that he will turn over several documents this week, according to the Times.

"We can't comment on any specific requests being made or our conversations with the special counsel,'' Cobb told the Times.

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    Blair Guild is a politics reporter and video producer for CBS News Digital.