Trump Hints He Won’t Speak With Mueller for Russia ProbeBy
President suggests lawyers have advised against meeting
Insists he must be ‘treated fairly’ in investigation
President Donald Trump hinted he won’t sit for an interview with Robert Mueller, telling reporters that he’d “love” to meet with the special counsel but that he has to listen to his lawyers, and insisted that he hadn’t changed his story about a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the election.
“If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyers,” Trump said about meeting with Mueller as he boarded the presidential helicopter on Friday.
He complained about Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election as he boarded the presidential helicopter on Friday, saying: “If you fight back, they say ‘oh, that’s obstruction.”’
Part of Mueller’s investigation includes a review of some of Trump’s official actions, including the firing of former FBI Director James Comey last year, to determine if the president attempted to obstruct justice. Trump said in January he “would love to” talk to Mueller, and that “I would do it under oath. Absolutely.”
But Trump’s new lead attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has said that any interview with Mueller would be constrained, if it happens at all.
“If we came to the conclusion they have already made up their mind and Comey is telling the truth -- that is a joke, Comey hasn’t told the truth in years -- then we would just be leading him into the lion’s den,” Giuliani said in an interview on Wednesday.
“I have to find that we’re going to be treated fairly,” Trump said Friday. The president referred to Mueller’s investigators as “angry Democrats,” adding “and that’s not a fair situation.”
Mueller was appointed FBI director by Republican President George W. Bush and was selected as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed by Trump.
Trump’s legal team has undergone another shakeup this week, with the addition of Giuliani and veteran attorney Emmet Flood, who will replace Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer who had encouraged broad cooperation with Mueller.
The change suggests the president is adopting a more adversarial posture toward the investigation.
Trump also insisted that he had not altered his account of a $130,000 payment that his lawyer Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who has alleged an affair with the president in 2006.
“We’re not changing any story,” he told reporters as he boarded Air Force One.
Giuliani disclosed in an interview on Fox News Wednesday that Trump had repaid Cohen for the payment. Last month, Trump said he didn’t know about the payment when it happened and didn’t know where Cohen got the money.
“Rudy understands this better than everybody but when he made certain statements, he just started yesterday, so that’s it,” Trump said. “He wasn’t totally familiar with everything.”
Trump did not explain what Giuliani got wrong, if anything. The president himself issued a series of tweets Thursday morning, after Giuliani’s interview, that confirmed he had reimbursed Cohen for the payment. He insisted that neither Cohen’s payment nor the reimbursement were related to his campaign.
Giuliani, though, indicated on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning that Cohen’s payment was related to the election.
“Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016 in the middle of the, you know, last debate with Hillary Clinton,” Giuliani said. “Cohen didn’t even ask. Cohen made it go away. He did his job.”
— With assistance by Shannon Pettypiece