President Donald Trump said Friday that he would “love to speak” with special counsel Robert Mueller, but only if he’s “treated fairly.”
“I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me,” the President told reporters at the White House, adding that his lawyers have advised him against sitting for an interview.
“I would love to speak because we’ve done nothing wrong,” he added.
The President also called into question the impartiality of Mueller’s team, saying it was filled with Democrats, and pointed out that Mueller worked as the FBI director under President Barack Obama, even though he was initially appointed by President George W. Bush, a Republican.
“I would love to go, I would love to speak, but I have to find that we’re going to be treated fairly. I have to find that we’re going to be treated fairly,” the President said. “Everybody sees it now and it is a pure witch hunt. Right now, it’s a pure witch hunt. Why don’t we have Republicans looking also? Why aren’t we having Republican people doing what all these Democrats are doing? It is a very unfair thing. If I thought it was fair, I would override my lawyers.”
Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, however, has been the subject of several Republican-led congressional inquiries. The House Intelligence Committee released a report last week in which the panel’s GOP members largely corroborated Trump’s position that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia. Democrats on the committee contested many of the report’s findings.
Key moment in Mueller probe
The President’s comments arrive at a time of heightened scrutiny over whether he and his legal team will participate in an interview with the special counsel as part of the ongoing Russia investigation.
Shakeups to Trump’s legal team and a leak of potential questions that Mueller might ask the President have created further uncertainty over whether Trump will cooperate.
Several questions on a list of possible inquiries obtained by The New York Times relate to the possibility of obstruction of justice. Trump continues to adamantly deny that any obstruction has taken place and has suggested that questions about it would amount to “a setup” and “trap.”
Rudy Giuliani, a recent addition to the President’s legal team, has publicly sketched out a set of parameters in recent days for a potential interview. Giuliani has said that if an interview were to take place, it would need to last no more than two to three hours and involve “a narrow set of questions.”
If Trump refuses to cooperate with an interview, Mueller might still be able to compel testimony from him. The special counsel has already raised the possibility of issuing a subpoena in at least one meeting with the President’s lawyers, two sources familiar with the matter have told CNN.