President Donald Trump said on June 26 that he thinks Robert Mueller’s hearing to testify on the findings of the Russia probe is a “diversion” and that the “worst political scandal is on the other side.”
Trump made the remarks to reporters at the White House after being asked about the news that the former special counsel had agreed to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on July 17.
“My only response to Mueller is, does it ever stop? After all of these years, time and people, does it ever stop? And the Democrats use it to try and divert from what they have, because what they’ve done—if you look and you see, and it’s just my opinion—tremendous criminal activity on their side. And they know it, and this is the diversion. But I ask you this—does it ever stop?” Trump said before boarding Air Force One to travel to Osaka, Japan for the G20 summit.
He again accused the Democrats of pursuing a “do-over” and weaponizing the findings of the Mueller investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
“This is really a hoax, the worst political scandal is on the other side,” Trump said.
Mueller’s more than 400-page report, which was released in late April, details how the special counsel concluded that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel also left Americans confused by staying silent on whether he would charge Trump with an obstruction of justice crime, and says he had not exonerated Trump or proven him innocent in the report.
“There was no collusion, no obstruction, no nothing. How many times do we have to hear it? It never ends. He keeps going on and on,” Trump said.
“And I’ve been going through this for two and a half years. The criminal activity was on the other side. With the fake dossier, the phony fraudulent dossier, and all the other things, the FISA warrants all of that. With the insurance policy by [Peter] Strzok and his lover Page. This is a disgraceful thing,” Trump added.
The infamous Steele dossier, which fueled two years of wild speculation in the media about alleged ties between Trump, his associates, and Russia, was compiled by former foreign spy Christopher Steele, who was hired by Fusion GPS.
The dossier’s still-unverified claims served as the foundation of the Trump–Russia narrative generated by legacy media outlets, anti-Trump politicians, and Obama administration officials. But none of the 103 key allegations contained in the Steele dossier were verified by special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation.
The Justice Department is currently investigating the origins of the 2016 counterintelligence probe into Trump campaign as well as the FBI’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
Following the release of the Mueller report, Democratic lawmakers ramped up their investigations and subpoenas for multiple witnesses in hopes of gathering information that could be used to prepare for an impeachment proceeding.
On June 25, Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) compelled Mueller, through a subpoena, to appear before Congress to testify on the findings of his report on the investigation into the alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential elections.
“[T]he American public deserves to hear directly from you about your investigation and conclusions. We will work with you to address legitimate concerns about preserving the integrity of your work, but we expect that you will appear before our Committees as scheduled,” the two Democratic committee leaders wrote in their letter (pdf).
The House lawmakers issued the subpoena even though Mueller said in a rare press conference on May 29 that he did not want to speak openly about the report.
“There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself,” he said.
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.