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President Donald Trump legal team looking to investigate Mueller aides

By Julie Pace

AP Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s legal team is evaluating potential conflicts of interest among members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. The revelation comes as Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election meddling appears likely to include some of the Trump family’s business ties.

Attorney Jay Sekulow, a member of the president’s external legal team, told The Associated Press Thursday that the lawyers “will consistently evaluate the issue of conflicts and raise them in the appropriate venue.”

Two of the people with knowledge of that process say those efforts include probing the political affiliations of Mueller’s investigators and their past work history. Trump himself has publicly challenged Mueller, declaring this week that the former FBI director would be crossing a line if he investigated the president’s personal business ties.

The focus on potential conflicts with Mueller’s team may well be an effort to distract from snowballing federal and congressional investigations into possible election year coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia. While Trump has assailed the probes as a partisan “witch hunt,” the investigations have increasingly ensnared his family and close advisers, including son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.

As the investigations intensify, Trump’s legal team is also undergoing a shakeup. New York-based attorney Marc Kasowitz, whose unconventional style has irked some White House aides, is seen as a diminishing presence in the operation, according to the two people with knowledge of the matter.

John Dowd, an experienced Washington attorney, is expected to step up his role on the president’s outside legal team, which also includes Sekulow. They’re just a few of the fast-growing cadre of attorneys stepping up to represent the president, his family and close advisers as the investigations continue to expand.