U.S. President Donald Trump is assailing special counsel Robert Mueller, accusing him of political bias in his investigation of Trump’s 2016 election campaign links to Russia and whether the president obstructed justice in trying to thwart the probe.
“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added … does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!” Trump said in one of a string of Twitter remarks over the weekend recalling his defeat of Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton and his negative view of the investigations in the year and a half since then.
Trump failed to note that at least at one point Mueller was a registered Republican voter and is generally viewed in Washington as an apolitical prosecutor, whose investigation of the Trump campaign is supported by Democrats and key Republicans who voiced their support on Sunday news shows for Mueller’s handling of the probe.
On Saturday, Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd suggested that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel, “bring an end” to Mueller’s investigation, resulting in media speculation about Trump’s next move regarding the probe.
Late Sunday, White House Lawyer Ty Cobb released the following statement:
“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the administration, the White House yet again confirms that the president is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”
WATCH: Trump Russia probe
Trump also attacked two former ousted FBI officials, former director James Comey, fired by Trump last May, and former deputy director Andrew McCabe, dismissed at Trump’s urging late Friday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, 26 hours before McCabe was set to retire and collect his full pension. Trump contended that Comey’s and McCabe’s personal written recollections of their conversations he had with them are fabricated.
Trump said he “spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?” In another tweet, Trump referred to the one-time FBI chief as “Sanctimonious James Comey” and said he made McCabe “look like a choirboy.”
Sessions dismissed McCabe after concurring with an internal Justice Department investigation that McCabe “had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor, including under oath, on multiple occasions,” a news leak McCabe said Comey knew about while they served together at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Trump tweeted about a segment he watched on his favorite morning news show, Fox and Friends, “Wow, watch Comey lie under oath” at a Senate hearing, “when asked “have you ever been an anonymous source … or known someone else to be an anonymous source …?” He said strongly “never, no.” He lied as shown clearly …”
Trump said, “the Fake News,” Trump’s epithet for the national news media, “is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired … How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!”
The president contended “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary” and the Democratic National Committee, “and improperly used” by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!”
On Sunday, Senator Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a key Trump supporter, told CNN that Mueller “needs to be able to do his job without interference.” Graham said that if Trump were to attempt to fire Mueller it would be “the beginning of the end of his presidency.”
Congressman Trey Gowdy, another South Carolina Republican, told Fox News, “I think the president’s lawyer does a disservice when he says that and frames the investigation that way … Russia attacked our country, let special counsel Mueller figure that out.”
Gowdy was part of the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee that concluded a week ago that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but said in the television interview, “You should want Special Counsel Mueller to take all the time and have all the independence he needs to do his job.”
Trump said, “As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State. Drain The Swamp.”
McCabe, in a statement after his firing, called his ouster “retribution,” saying, “I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of [former FBI Director] James Comey.” U.S. news accounts said he had written contemporaneous accounts of his conversations with Trump.
His firing, barely a day ahead of his 50th birthday on Sunday, could cost McCabe thousands of dollars in retirement benefits.