‘National Disgrace!’: Trump escalates attack on Mueller as jury mulls Manafort’s fate
President Trump on Monday escalated his attack on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, labeling the special counsel “disgraced and discredited” and Mueller’s investigators a “National Disgrace.”
The outburst came after a pair of New York Times reports that revealed White House counsel Don McGahn spoke extensively with Mueller’s investigators, sitting for 30 hours of interviews after the president encouraged McGahn to fully cooperate with an investigation he is now seeking to disparage.
“Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel [sic], only with my approval, for purposes of transparency,” Trump tweeted.
The attack also came as the jury resumes its third day of deliberations in the trial against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager whom Mueller has charged with tax fraud and other crimes.
“Anybody needing that much time when they know there is no Russian Collusion is just someone … looking for trouble,” Trump continued. “They are enjoying ruining people’s lives and REFUSE to look at the real corruption on the Democrat side — the lies, the firings, the deleted Emails and soooo much more! Mueller’s Angry Dems are looking to impact the election. They are a National Disgrace!”
According to the Times, McGahn shared with Mueller’s team detailed accounts of “the president’s fury toward the Russia investigation,” including Trump’s “comments and actions” during the firing of FBI Director James Comey, his repeated attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump’s ill-fated attempt to fire Mueller, a directive McGahn refused.
“I allowed White House Counsel Don McGahn, and all other requested members of the White House Staff, to fully cooperate with the Special Counsel,” Trump tweeted on Saturday night. “In addition we readily gave over one million pages of documents. Most transparent in history. No Collusion, No Obstruction. Witch Hunt!”
On Sunday, the Times reported that Trump’s lawyers did not know how much McGahn revealed to investigators during those interviews — “a lapse that has contributed to a growing recognition that an early strategy of full cooperation with the inquiry was a potentially damaging mistake.” (Trump tweeted Sunday that Mueller’s probe makes “Joseph McCarthy look like a baby!”)
While it’s not clear McGahn had any insight into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, part of the focus of Mueller’s probe, he could help the special counsel with the other part: whether Trump obstructed the investigation itself.
Trump questioned both charges in a tweet on Monday.
“Where’s the Collusion?” the president wrote. “They made up a phony crime called Collusion, and when there was no Collusion they say there was Obstruction (of a phony crime that never existed). If you FIGHT BACK or say anything bad about the Rigged Witch Hunt, they scream Obstruction!”
Trump himself has not been questioned by Mueller, who has been negotiating with the president’s legal team for such an interview. Trump has said he’d be willing to testify, but that his lawyers have to this point urged him not to do so.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani told host Chuck Todd that he is afraid Trump would get “trapped into perjury.”
“I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said. “And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth.”
“Truth is truth,” Todd injected.
“No, it isn’t truth,” Giuliani replied. “Truth isn’t truth.”
The declaration was widely mocked.
On Monday morning, Giuliani attempted to clarify his comment.
“My statement was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements, the classic ‘he said, she said’ puzzle,” Giuliani tweeted. “Sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn’t.”