During an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, President Donald Trump warned special counsel Robert Mueller against looking into his finances as part of the Russia probe, but he stopped short of saying he would fire the special counsel for doing so.
Asked if it would be a “breach of what his actual charge is” if Mueller looked at the President’s finances, Trump replied, “I would say yeah.”
“I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia,” Trump added. “They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that.”
Trump was then asked if Mueller would have to step down if he looked into the President’s finances.
“No, I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company,” the President responded.
When asked if he would fire Mueller if he went outside the parameters of the Russia probe, Trump wouldn’t say.
“I can’t, I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen,” the President said.
Trump also criticized Mueller for having conflicts of interest.
“I said, what the hell is this all about? Talk about conflicts? But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point,” Trump told the Times, describing his reaction when Mueller was appointed special counsel of the Russia probe.
Earlier in the interview, Trump suggested that James Comey, the former FBI director, told Trump about the dossier with unverified allegations about Trump so that he could use it as leverage to keep his job.
“I think he shared it so that I would — because the other three people left, and he showed it to me,” Trump said when asked why Comey told him about the dossier.
“So anyway, in my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Trump added.
“As leverage?” New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt asked.
“Yeah, I think so. In retrospect,” Trump replied.
Read excerpts from the New York Times interview here.