Trump set to fight Mueller with al­ter­na­tive facts

Toronto Star - - WORLD - JOHN WAG­NER AND DEVLIN BAR­RETT THE WASH­ING­TON POST

WASH­ING­TON— U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Fri­day that his lawyers are pre­par­ing a “ma­jor Counter Re­port” in re­sponse to ex­pected find­ings from spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble co-or­di­na­tion be­tween Rus­sia and Trump’s 2016 cam­paign.

Trump con­firmed the plan in a spate of an­gry morn­ing tweets in which he also took fresh aim at Mueller and his le­gal team, ac­cus­ing them of con­flicts of in­ter­est and overzeal­ous pros­e­cu­tions that have “wrongly de­stroyed peo­ple’s lives.”

“We will be do­ing a ma­jor Counter Re­port to the Mueller Re­port,” Trump said. “This should never again be al­lowed to hap­pen to a fu­ture Pres­i­dent of the United States!”

The pres­i­dent’s con­fir­ma­tion of the plan ap­pears to have been spurred by re­ports that his per­sonal lawyer, Rudy Gi­u­liani, and oth­ers were do­ing lit­tle to pre­pare to re­but Mueller, who is also look­ing at whether Trump has ob­structed jus­tice.

Trump said 87 pages had al­ready been writ­ten, adding, “ob­vi­ously can­not com­plete un­til we the see the fi­nal Witch Hunt re­port.”

His ear­lier tweets seek­ing to un­der­cut Mueller’s cred­i­bil­ity came ahead of ex­pected court fil­ings from pros­e­cu­tors that could shed more light on the scope of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that has be­come in­creas­ingly per­ilous for the pres­i­dent.

By the end of the day Fri­day, Mueller is ex­pected to spell out in de­tail why pros­e­cu­tors ac­cused Paul Manafort, Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, of ly­ing to them and break­ing a co-op­er­a­tion agree­ment. Sep­a­rately, the spe­cial coun­sel’s of­fice and fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in New York are ex­pected to rec­om­mend a sen­tence for Michael Co­hen, Trump’s for­mer loy­al­ist and lawyer, in fil­ings that could de­tail the ex­tent of his co-op­er­a­tion against Trump in mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

In a half-dozen tweets Fri­day morn­ing, Trump aired many fa­mil­iar griev­ances, in­clud­ing an ac­cu­sa­tion that Mueller was ig­nor­ing “cor­rup­tion” by Democrats and would pro­duce a “Repub­li­cans only Re­port.”

Among other things, Trump also al­leged that one of Mueller’s con­flicts of in­ter­est was be­ing “Best Friends” with for­mer FBI di­rec­tor James Comey. Trump fired Comey last year as he was in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble co-or­di­na­tion be­tween Trump’s cam­paign and Rus­sia. The fir­ing has been scru­ti­nized by pros­e­cu­tors as they ex­am­ine whether the pres­i­dent has ob­structed jus­tice.

Trump also went af­ter An­drew Weiss­mann, a top Mueller lieu­tenant who has led the pros­e­cu­tion of Manafort, now con­victed of tax eva­sion and fraud charges re­lated to his past work con­sult­ing for a Rus­sian­backed po­lit­i­cal party in Ukraine. Trump wrote that Weiss­mann has a “hor­ri­ble and vi­cious pros­e­cu­to­rial past.” Weiss­mann’s ca­reer stretches back decades, dur­ing which he pur­sued mob­sters, En­ron ex­ec­u­tives and white-col­lar crim­i­nals.

Trump’s tweets also ques­tioned the choice of a prose­cu­tor who has been prob­ing the ac­tions of Jerome Corsi to de­ter­mine whether he co-or­di­nated with Wik­iLeaks in the re­lease of hacked Demo­cratic emails.

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