Trump derides Mueller's obstruction probe as a 'setup' and 'trap'

Senior Editor
Yahoo News

President Trump on Wednesday called special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president’s possible obstruction of justice in the ongoing federal probe of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia a “setup” and a “trap.”

Trump has for months complained about the probe, which he has repeatedly labeled a “witch hunt.” He did so again Wednesday morning.

“There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap),” Trump tweeted. “What there is is Negotiations going on with North Korea over Nuclear War, Negotiations going on with China over Trade Deficits, Negotiations on NAFTA, and much more. Witch Hunt!”

Trump’s tweet comes amid multiple reports that his lawyers and the special counsel are heading toward a possible legal showdown over an interview Mueller wants to conduct with the commander in chief.

On Tuesday night, the Washington Post reported that Mueller raised possibility of presidential subpoena during a “tense” early March meeting with Trump’s legal team.

“Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign,” the Post reported. “But Mueller responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury.”

CNN reported that Trump’s legal team is bracing for the possibility of the case ultimately going to the Supreme Court.

Donald Trump, Robert Mueller (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images, Charles Dharapak/AP, AP)
Donald Trump, Robert Mueller (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images, Charles Dharapak/AP, AP)

Meanwhile, most legal experts say a Trump-Mueller interview would be a minefield for a president who has made, by the Post’s count, more than 3,000 false or misleading claims since taking office.

On Monday, the New York Times published a report that included more than 40 questions that Mueller would like to ask Trump. The Times said it obtained the questions, which were given to the president’s lawyers, from a person who is not part of Trump’s legal team.

Mueller, who has reportedly been seeking an interview with Trump for months, appears to want to know about a broad array of issues, including Trump’s thinking regarding the firings of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey. Trump’s firing of Comey prompted the Justice Department to appoint Mueller to oversee the Russia investigation. Comey says he believes he was fired because of the probe.

The questions also address Trump’s attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as the president’s knowledge of his campaign’s interactions with figures tied to the Kremlin. In particular, the special counsel is interested in the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower — attended by Donald Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort — with a Russian lawyer who offered “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

“This list reinforces the notion that the president should not go in for an interview with Mueller,” Sol Wisenberg, a defense lawyer who served as deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, told the Times. “Mueller knows all kinds of things — we don’t know exactly what he knows — and these are both broad and detailed questions, making real land mines.”

Related: What Mueller’s questions for Trump reveal about the investigation

On Tuesday, Trump called the disclosure of Mueller’s questions “disgraceful” and falsely suggested that a person can’t be charged with obstructing justice if no underlying crime is ultimately found.

“Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed,” he tweeted.

The president added: “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!”

In a follow-up tweet Wednesday, Trump quoted Joe diGenova, a lawyer and former U.S. attorney who on Tuesday argued in a Sirius satellite radio interview that Mueller’s questions are “an intrusion” into the president’s article II power to fire anyone he pleases.

“To ask questions, as Mr. Mueller apparently proposes to do, about what the president was thinking when he fired Comey, or Flynn, or anybody else, is an outrageous, sophomoric, juvenile intrusion into the president’s unfettered power to fire anyone in the executive branch,” diGenova said. An excerpt of the interview appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Tuesday night.

Trump is known to regularly watch the show and use Hannity as an informal adviser.

Trump then weighed in on the Department of Justice’s refusal to turn over certain documents to congressional committees investigating the DOJ’s decision-making in 2016 and 2017 — and warned he may “have no choice” but to “get involved!”


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