Donald Trump has floated the idea he could “run” the Mueller probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election – despite the fact he and and members of his administration are the ones being investigated.
In an interview with Reuters, the President claimed he was heading up a “smooth-running machine”, recognised by everyone except the Special Counsel probe.
He said: “I’ve decided to stay out. Now I don’t have to stay out.
“I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out.”
“I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out.”
Trump’s idea of “staying out” clearly doesn’t extend to his Twitter account, which yesterday was once host to a series of angry diatribes against the Mueller investigation.
Whether or not Trump could and would fire Robert Mueller and take over the investigation is open to debate.
Legally it’s possible, and some members of Congress have floated legislation designed to protect its integrity.
But such a move on the part of the President would look suspicious to say the least, especially as a major part of it is attempting to determine if Trump obstructed justice by removing James Comey as the head of the FBI.
Trump also said he was worried that any statements under oath he provides to Mueller could be used to bring perjury charges against him.
The President echoed the concerns of his top lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, who has warned that any sit-down with Mueller could be a “perjury trap.”
The President expressed fears that investigators could compare his statements with that of others who have testified in the probe, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and that any discrepancies could be used against him.
“So if I say something and he (Comey) says something, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.”
Despite his concerns, Trump did not comment on whether he would ultimately agree to an interview with Mueller, who is, among other things, investigating whether Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russians during the 2016 election and whether Trump has obstructed justice in the probe.
Trump also declined to say whether he might strip Mueller of his security clearance, as he did last week to former CIA Director John Brennan, who had repeatedly criticised Trump’s handling of foreign policy and national security issues.
“I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” he said.
Russia has denied interfering in the 2016 US election and Trump has denied any collusion took place.