Asked about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe Wednesday, and specifically about whether he would fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, President Donald Trump didn’t answer directly but instead pointed to the fact that they had not yet been dismissed.
“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months and they’re still here,” Trump said of the two men.
The comment came during a joint press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. Bloomberg News’ Jennifer Jacobs had asked if Trump determined that “it’s not worth the political fallout” to remove either Mueller or Rosenstein.
Trump began his answer by insisting, again, that there had been “no collusion,” and that “we are giving tremendous amounts of paper” to investigators.
He repeated his attack that the entire investigation was based on a Democratic “hoax” to distract from an electoral loss and went down a laundry list of claims about Democrats.
“I have instructed our lawyers, be totally transparent,” Trump said. “I believe we’ve given them 1.4 million pages of documents, if you can believe this, and haven’t used, that I know of, or for the most part, presidential powers or privilege.”
Mueller, aside from public legal filings and statements, has been vigilant about preventing leaks, and the extent to which the White House has asserted executive privilege in those proceedings is unclear. Trump’s former top strategist, Steve Bannon, has urged him to invoke executive privilege “immediately and retroactively.”
But current and former administration officials have repeatedly asserted under oath that presidential privilege prevented them from answering inquiring congressional committees’ questions, or simply refused to answer committee questions without providing an explanation for their silence.
“We are hopefully coming to the end,” Trump added Wednesday. “It is a bad thing for our country, very very bad thing for our country, but there has been no collusion. They won’t find any collusion. It doesn’t exist.”