WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump pressed his criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller on Monday, accusing Mueller’s team of “enjoying ruining people’s lives” and “looking to impact the election.”
Trump’s tweets followed a New York Times report that the White House general counsel, Don McGahn, has been cooperating extensively with the special counsel team investigating Russian election meddling and potential collusion with Trump’s Republican campaign.
Over the weekend, Trump insisted his general counsel isn’t a “RAT” like President Richard Nixon’s and accused Mueller’s team of “looking for trouble.” He contrasted McGahn with John Dean, the White House counsel for Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Dean ultimately cooperated with prosecutors and helped bring down the Nixon presidency in 1974, though he served a prison term for obstruction of justice.
“The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type ‘RAT,'” Trump wrote Sunday, misspelling “counsel.”
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“But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to. I have nothing to hide …” he wrote.
On Monday he called Mueller “disgraced and discredited.”
“Anybody needing that much time when they know there is no Russian Collusion is just someone looking for trouble,” he wrote. “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!”
Dean, Nixon’s White House counsel and a frequent critic of Trump, tweeted Sunday that he doubts the president has “ANY IDEA what McGahn has told Mueller. Also, Nixon knew I was meeting with prosecutors, b/c I told him. However, he didn’t think I would tell them the truth!”
Trump’s original legal team had encouraged McGahn and other White House officials to cooperate with Mueller, and McGahn spent hours in interviews.
Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump didn’t raise executive privilege or attorney-client privilege during those interviews because his team believed — he says now, wrongly — that fully participating would be the fastest way to bring the investigation to a close.
“The president encouraged him to testify, is happy that he did, is quite secure that there is nothing in the testimony that will hurt the president,” Giuliani said.
McGahn’s attorney William Burck added in a statement: “President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the Special Counsel team’s questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must.”
Giuliani, in his interview, also acknowledged that the reason for the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer, arranged by Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr., was that they had been promised dirt on Trump’s 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
“The meeting was originally for the purpose of getting information about Clinton,” he said, adding that the Trump team didn’t know that Natalia Veselnitskaya was Russian — even though emails later released by Trump Jr. show that she had been described as a “Russian government attorney.”
Giuliani also tried to make the case that having Trump sit down for an interview with Mueller’s team wouldn’t accomplish much because of the he-said-she-said nature of witnesses’ recollections.
“It’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth,” he said, telling NBC: “Truth isn’t truth.”