President Donald Trump declared late Wednesday he’s “looking forward” to being questioned — under oath — in the special counsel’s probe of Russian election interference and possible Trump obstruction in the firing of the FBI director.
Here’s what Trump said to reporters:
“Are you gonna talk to Mueller?” ask a reporter.
“I’m looking forward to it, actually,” he responded.
“Here’s the story,” he said, “just so you understand. There’s been no collusion whatsoever. There’s no obstruction whatsoever, and I’m looking forward to it.”
“I do worry when I look at all of the things that you people don’t report about, with what’s happening, if you take a look at, you know, the five month’s worth of missing texts,” he explained. “That’s a lot of missing texts. And as I said yesterday, that’s primetime.”
The president was referring to the FBI admission that they had accidentally failed to collect texts from an FBI official who was taken off the Russian investigation because of anti-Trump bias in other collected texts.
“So you do sorta look at that and say what’s going on,” Trump continued. “Uh, you do look at certain texts where they talk about insurance policies or insurance, or they say the kinds of things they’re saying. You gotta be concerned.”
“But I would love that, and I would like to do it as soon as possible,” he added.
“So here’s the story,” he responded when asked when he would be questioned by Mueller, “I guess they’re talking about two or three weeks, but I would love to do it, I have to say, subject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to do it.”
Here’s the audio of Trump talking to reporters:
Audio: President Trump tells reporters he would be happy to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller under oath, but will listen to the advice of his lawyers. https://t.co/VPJaNrkzwF pic.twitter.com/XKsIzTt8A5
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) January 24, 2018
The FBI investigation into Russian election interference and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign during the election reportedly sought to question Trump about his decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey and his former national security adviser, Mike Flynn.
Sessions, who had urged Comey’s firing, was interviewed for hours, becoming the highest-ranking Trump administration official known to have submitted to questioning. Mueller also wants to interview former adviser Steve Bannon, who has called Comey’s firing perhaps the biggest mistake in “modern political history.”
The White House initially said the firing was based on the Justice Department’s recommendation and cited as justification a memo that faulted Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Trump himself said later he was thinking of this “Russia thing” and had intended to fire Comey anyway.
Sessions, the target of the president’s ire since he stepped aside last March from the Russia investigation, would have been able to offer close-up insight into the president’s thinking ahead of the termination. He also could have been able to speak to the president’s relationship with Comey, which Comey documented in a series of memos about conversations with Trump that bothered him.
In one memo, Comey described a January 2017 meeting over dinner at which he said the president asked him to pledge his loyalty. Separately, a person familiar with the conversation said this week that Trump in a meeting last year with Deputy Director Andrew McCabe brought up McCabe’s wife’s political background following the revelation that she had accepted campaign contributions during a state Senate run from the political action committee of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday night that Trump had also asked McCabe whom he voted for in the presidential race. McCabe replied that he did not vote. Trump said Wednesday he did not recall asking that question.
Another of Comey’s memos centered on a February conversation at the White House in which he said Trump told him he believed Flynn, the fired national security adviser, was a “good guy” and encouraged Comey to drop an investigation into him. The FBI had interviewed Flynn weeks earlier about whether he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador during the transition period between the election and the inauguration. Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI during that interview.
Mueller has been investigating the events leading up to Flynn’s dismissal from the White House, including how officials responded to information from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates that Flynn had misled them by saying that he had not discussed sanctions. Despite that warning, and despite an FBI interview days after Trump’s inauguration, Flynn was not forced to resign until Feb. 13 — the night of media reports about Yates’ conversation with McGahn.
Mueller will likely want to know what Trump understood, before asking Comey to let the Flynn investigation go, about Flynn’s interview with the FBI — and whether he had made false statements — and about his conversation with the Russian ambassador.
Four people have so far been charged in the Mueller investigation, including Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Free speech is under attack. Share this article on Social Media by clicking the share button, do your part to keep independent journalism going.