AP Photo/Richard Drew, File
President Donald Trump during a Fox News interview on Friday appeared to be making a case for getting Robert Mueller pulled off of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election.
Excerpts from Trump’s interview with “Fox and Friends” released Thursday night showed an adamant Trump criticizing Mueller, a former FBI director, for his past association with James Comey, the FBI head that Trump fired in May as the Russia investigation gained traction.
“Well he’s very, very good friends with Comey which is very bothersome … we’re going to have to see,” Trump said of Mueller. The president also accused Mueller of hiring Hillary Clinton supporters to oversee portions of the investigation.
The Trump-Russia inquiry has grown dramatically since Mueller took the reins last month, and now includes probes of possible financial connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Mueller is also reportedly investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, due to the president’s alleged lobbying of federal law-enforcement officials who are involved in the investigation.
Trump told Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt, “there has been no obstruction, there has been no collusion,” and the president accused Comey of leaking information to reporters.
Zach Gibson/Getty ImagesTrump, in the first days of his presidency, had demanded Comey’s loyalty during a private dinner at the White House. Comey refused.
Trump also asked Comey to “let go” of the FBI’s investigation of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to memos Comey wrote that documented the encounters.
After Trump fired Comey, he told NBC News’ Lester Holt that he had the Russia investigation in mind when he made his decision.
Since then, Trump and his surrogates have made public statements that suggested the administration was floating the possibility of a major shakeup in the Russia probe.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Mueller the “tip of a deep state spear aimed at” Trump, after it was reported that Mueller was adding obstruction of justice to his ongoing investigation of Trump and his campaign.
Several other Trump allies echoed Gingrich’s remarks, including conservative commentator Ann Coulter who said Attorney General Jeff Sessions “should fire Mueller,” and radio host Bill Mitchell, who suggested Mueller and Comey may have “colluded” and said Mueller should “immediately” step down.
Those rumblings, among others, were seen as a move to discredit Mueller’s findings before the investigation is finished.