Trump promises ‘Counter Report’ to Mueller’s findings
WASHINGTON — 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 coordination between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Trump confirmed the plan in a spate of angry morning tweets in which 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.”
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, whom Trump referred to as “Leakin’ Lyin’ James Comey.”
Comey and Mueller, both veterans of the Justice Department, have known each other for more than a decade and have said they respect one another, but associates of both men say they are not personal friends and did not socialize outside work functions. Both men were registered Republicans for most of their adult lives.
Trump fired Comey last year as he was investigating possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Comey, meanwhile, spoke to House investigators behind closed doors for almost seven hours Friday, begrudgingly answering questions about the Justice Department’s decisions during the 2016 presidential election.
Comey, who appeared under subpoena, announced after the meeting that he would return for more questioning Dec. 17. Appearing annoyed, he said “we’re talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails, for heaven’s sake, so I’m not sure we needed to do this at all.”
A transcript of the Comey interview, which Comey said “will bore you,” is slated to be released Saturday.
Two GOP- led committees brought Comey in as they sought to wrap up an investigation into the department’s decisions in 2016. Republicans argue that department officials were biased against Trump as they started an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia and cleared Democrat Hillary Clinton in the probe into her email use. Comey was in charge of both investigations.
Democrats have said the investigations by the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees are merely a way to distract from and undermine Mueller’s Russia probe. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D- N. Y., slated to be the chairman of the Judiciary committee when Congress reconvenes next month, called the questioning of Comey a “fishing expedition.”
The interview covered many of the same topics that Comey has testified about in several public hearings and was subject to many of the same limitations the FBI has placed on other witnesses, including a requirement not to discuss ongoing investigations, much to the frustration of Republican members.
California Rep. Darrell Issa said Comey had two lawyers in the room, his personal lawyer and a lawyer from the Justice Department. He said the department lawyer repeatedly instructed Comey not to answer “a great many questions that are clearly items at the core of our investigation.”
Some Democrats defended Comey.
“He answered the questions he had to answer,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. But he added that he was left with the impression that “we got nowhere today.”