Missed Connection: Donald Trump Jr. and Robert Mueller Cross Paths at Washington Airport

Robert S. Mueller III, second from left, the special counsel, and Donald Trump Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, standing second from right, on Friday at Gate 35X at Reagan National Airport near Washington.

WASHINGTON — They haven’t yet sat down for an interview. But they almost met at Gate 35X.

Donald Trump Jr., in a camouflage hat and in the middle of a phone call, leaned against a wall on Friday while standing in line at Reagan National Airport. And there, only feet away, seated and absorbed in a newspaper, was Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, or what President Trump calls a “WITCH HUNT.”

It is unclear where the two men were headed, or if they even ended up on the same flight. And it is unclear if they ever made eye contact.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office said Mr. Mueller was unaware of Donald Trump Jr.’s presence and had no interaction with him.

But just the sight of the men within each other’s periphery, captured Friday morning in a photograph sent to Politico, was enough to send the political world (and the internet) buzzing about the possibilities of what could have been said.

“Isn’t Gate 35X the absolute worst airport gate in the United States?”

“Did your father know about the meeting in Trump Tower?”

Or merely, “Well, this is awkward.”

People familiar with the special counsel investigation say that Mr. Mueller has not yet requested an interview with Donald Trump Jr. for the inquiry into Russian interference and whether President Trump sought to obstruct that investigation.

A public photograph of Donald Trump Jr. — apparently en route to Westchester County Airport in White Plains, with a Secret Service detail in tow — is not unusual. The eldest Trump son, who made a fleeting cameo on Thursday night at a book party at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary, relentlessly chronicles his thoughts, workouts and hunting vacations on Instagram.

But it was a rare sighting of the elusive Mr. Mueller, who has successfully avoided photographers since a visit to the Capitol more than a year ago.

And it was fitting — in the ultimate, only-in-this-town way — that the near physical collision of the biggest players in the hunt for collusion took place at Gate 35X at Reagan National Airport: an inefficient and uncomfortable, but ultimately necessary, gateway to the Washington swamp.

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