Trump prom­ises ‘Counter Re­port’ to Mueller’s find­ings

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By John Wag­ner and Devlin Bar­rett In­for­ma­tion from the New York Daily News was in­cluded in this story.

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.”

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