Trump faces major legal perils despite not being 'target' of Russia probe, experts say

Despite a Tuesday report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller does not consider President Trump a "criminal target" in the ongoing Russia probe, Trump still faces significant legal risks -- and could become a target quickly, legal experts warned.

Trump "privately expressed relief" at Mueller's description of his legal status last month, which instead pegged Trump as a "subject" of his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, The Washington Post reported.

But advisers have cautioned the president that Mueller may be attempting to bait him into agreeing to a potentially risky in-person interview, according to the paper.


"Subjects" of federal probes can quickly become targets, especially as more information is gathered and interviews are conducted.

Even if Trump remains a subject of the probe, though, Mueller has reportedly told Trump's team that he is planning to draft a thorough report about the president's actions and potential obstruction of justice -- a document that could lead to significant political fallout.

"The key isn’t that Trump is not (yet) a 'target' but that he IS a SUBJECT of Mueller’s investigation & that Mueller will write a REPORT on what Trump did, why, and what it adds up to. That is HUGE," Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe tweeted.

Whether such a report could be disseminated publicly is uncertain, owing to Department of Justice regulations that restrict Mueller from unilaterally publishing it.

But some experts, including Tribe, have concluded that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would bow to political pressures.

"Rosenstein can and surely will make the Mueller report public," Tribe tweeted. "It’s inconceivable that he’d try to stifle it, whatever its conclusions might be."