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Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with the case say – Orange County Register

By Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky

WASHINGTON – The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

The revelation comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had lied to administration officials about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Cabinet members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

People familiar with the investigation said the intensifying effort does not mean criminal charges are near, or that any such charges will result. Earlier this week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel and lead the investigation into Russian meddling.

It is unclear exactly how Mueller’s leadership will affect the direction of the probe, and he is already bringing in new people to work on the…

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