After repeatedly claiming over the last year that he was game for an interview with Robert Mueller, Donald Trump is finally admitting that when push comes to shove, he can’t go toe to toe with special counsel in an interview. When asked during a Fox appearance Sunday about doing such an interview with the special counsel, Trump said “we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is, probably, we’re finished.”
Probably. Still can’t quite bring himself to admit that he’s too much of a patsy to meet Mueller face to face. To justify his reluctance, Trump also leaned on the claim that sitting with Mueller would be a “perjury trap“—as in, he’s constitutionally incapable of telling the truth and so talking to anyone under oath would inherently be a “trap.”
Case in point: Trump also told Wallace he had no idea his acting attorney general appointee Matthew Whitaker had previously expressed opposition to the Mueller investigation. “I did not know he took views on the Mueller investigation as such,” Trump said.
Of course, multiple reports have indicated that Trump talked about the Russia probe with Whitaker during his time serving as Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly even described Whitaker as the West Wing’s “eyes and ears” at the Department of Justice. Not to mention the fact that several people have said Whitaker’s cable TV appearances caught Trump’s eye. As the Washington Post wrote:
Two Republicans close to the president said he had enjoyed Whitaker’s TV appearances and the two had struck a bond. Those TV appearances included one on CNN in which Whitaker suggested that the Mueller probe could be starved of resources.
Trump has also told his inner circle that he believes Whitaker will be “loyal” and wouldn’t have recused himself overseeing the Russia investigation the way Sessions did. Call me crazy, but it kinda seems like Trump was damn well aware of Whitaker’s musings on the Russia probe.
During the Fox interview, Trump also said there’s no reason to hold Whitaker accountable for his previous comments concluding that no collusion took place between Trump’s campaign and Russia. “He’s right,” Trump said. “What do you do when a person’s right? There is no collusion. He happened to be right. I mean, he said it. So if he said there is collusion, I’m supposed to be taking somebody that says there is?”
Just imagine how excited Trump was about appointing someone to oversee Mueller who had repeated his very own “There is no collusion” talking point on cable TV. Genius.