White House counselor Kellyanne Conway suggested Thursday night that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe was becoming a “fishing expedition” as it looks into President Donald Trump and his family’s business dealings.
In an interview with Conway, CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked for reaction to two fresh news items: that Mueller had impaneled a grand jury as part of his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election; and that, according to Reuters, grand jury subpoenas had been issued in connection with the July 2016 meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a Kremlin effort to aide Donald Trump’s campaign.
“Grand jury proceedings are supposed to remain private,” Conway began. “So it’s unfortunate that that’s not the case here.”
Conway referred to a statement put out Ty Cobb, a personal lawyer of Trump’s, that said “[t]he White House favors anything that accelerates the conclusion” of the special counsel probe “fairly.” Another outside Trump attorney, Jay Sekulow, said the grand jury news was “not a surprise.”
Cuomo asked Conway if Mueller’s looking into Trump’s business empire, and the business ventures of his family members, crossed any “red lines” for the President, as Trump had suggested in a recent New York Times interview.
“The President has said that Jim Comey, the former FBI director, assured him on three separate occasions that he is not personally a target of any investigation,” Conway said. “We know that these types of endeavors end up being fishing expeditions. They’re a very broadly-cast net, and I would remind everybody that, in terms of President Trump, he has said that he has no financial dealings with Russia whatsoever.”
Trump administration officials and surrogates have repeatedly claimed that Trump has no business in Russia, although the President’s ties to the country’s business community have been documented extensively and are part of Mueller’s investigation. It’s impossible to know the full extent of the President’s business relationships without his tax returns, which he has refused to release.