By ABC News Chief National Security Correspondent Jennifer Griffin
WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump is headed for a challenging Monday when he gets a report on the Russia probe that is certain to color his future decisions on trade, immigration and other issues.
The president has said the probe is a “witch hunt” and is convinced that no collusion ever took place between his campaign and Russia. He has said he will not rule out pardoning former campaign chairman Paul Manafort if his legal situation ultimately ends up in court.
Trump is scheduled to speak to members of the National Conference of Black Mayors on immigration and trade, after the report comes out from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The meeting at the White House is considered one of the most consequential of Trump’s presidency. It comes amid pressure on Trump from immigrant groups and pro-immigration Democrats as the White House looks to announce major changes to the immigration system.
Trump is said to be in a reactive mode on immigration for now, even though immigration had been a major campaign promise.
This internal White House dynamic on immigration could be a sign that Trump might not, as some people expect, make a move on a controversial proposed border wall any time soon.
In response to a shouted question on whether he would pardon Manafort during the president’s session with the local officials on Monday, Trump said he “doesn’t rule anything out.”
A source close to Manafort said in an email that “based on conversations we have had with him and his legal team over the past week, Mr. Manafort believes the president has the right to commit prosecutorial and constitutional review as a sovereign leader and is not keen on the prospects of hearing any ‘news’ from him.”
Mueller began the month with 33 witnesses scheduled to appear in his grand jury and 26 attorneys meeting to discuss the special counsel’s investigation.
Though nearly all investigations involve tension and counterpressure from various special counsels and grand juries, Mueller is in the middle of an important stage: He has seven weeks left in his term and eight months until the next justice to the Supreme Court takes over.
Some leaders in Trump’s administration want to speed up work on the Russia issue.
One official said the president “has no response” to the timeline they have offered for an end to the probe in exchange for a presidential pardon.