Early in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III investigation, President Trump made a concerted effort to question the neutrality of special counsel's investigators and even tried to fire Mueller. Then he eased up, apparently on the advice of others.
Now it seems all bets are off again. Trump on Monday night referred to Mueller's team as “the most conflicted group of people I have ever seen” — lashing out at Mueller-related topics after the raid on his longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office in connection with the Stormy Daniels hush-money case. (The raid was referred by Mueller’s Russia investigation to the U.S. attorney in New York, but it isn’t considered part of the Mueller probe.) Trump even left open the idea of trying — again — to fire Mueller.
Below is what Trump said, along with some fact-checking and analysis.
TRUMP: So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. And it’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down. We’ve given, I believe, over a million pages worth of documents to the Special Counsel.
They continue to just go forward. And here we are talking about Syria and we’re talking about a lot of serious things. We’re the greatest fighting force ever. And I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now — and actually, much more than that. You could say it was right after I won the nomination, it started.
And it’s a disgrace. It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.
So when I saw this and when I heard it — I heard it like you did — I said, that is really now on a whole new level of unfairness.
So this has been going on — I saw one of the reporters, who is not necessarily a fan of mine, not necessarily very good to me. He said, in effect, that this is ridiculous; this is now getting ridiculous. They found no collusion whatsoever with Russia. The reason they found it is there was no collusion at all. No collusion. This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.
Democrats all — or just about all — either Democrats or a couple of Republicans that worked for President Obama, they’re not looking at the other side; they’re not looking at the Hillary Clinton — the horrible things that she did and all of the crimes that were committed. They’re not looking at all of the things that happened that everybody is very angry about, I can tell you, from the Republican side, and I think even the independent side. They only keep looking at us.
So they find no collusion, and then they go from there and they say, “Well, let’s keep going.” And they raid an office of a personal attorney early in the morning. And I think it’s a disgrace.
So we’ll be talking about it more. But this is the most conflicted group of people I’ve ever seen. The Attorney General made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself. Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a — put a different Attorney General in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country. But you’ll figure that out.
All I can say is, after looking for a long period of time — and even before the Special Counsel — because it really started just about from the time I won the nomination. And you look at what took place and what happened, and it’s a disgrace. It’s a disgrace.
I’ve been President now for what seems like a lengthy period of time. We’ve done a fantastic job. We’ve beaten ISIS. We have just about 100 percent of the caliphate or the land. Our economy is incredible. The stock market dropped a lot today as soon as they heard the noise of this nonsense that’s going on. It dropped a lot. It was up — way up, and then it dropped quite a bit at the end. A lot.
But that we have to go through that — we’ve had that hanging over us now from the very, very beginning. And yet the other side, they don’t even bother looking. And the other side is where there are crimes, and those crimes are obvious. Lies, under oath, all over the place. Emails that are knocked out, that are acid-washed and deleted. Nobody has ever seen — 33,000 emails are deleted after getting a subpoena for Congress, and nobody bothers looking at that. And many, many other things.
So I just think it’s a disgrace that a thing like this can happen. With all of that being said, we are here to discuss Syria tonight. We’re the greatest fighting force anywhere in the world. These gentlemen and ladies are incredible people, incredible talent, and we’re making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus. And it will be met, and it will be met forcefully. And when, I will not say, because I don’t like talking about the timing.
But we are developing the greatest force that we’ve ever had. We had $700 billion just approved, which was the reason I went along with that budget because we had to fix our military. General Mattis would tell you that above anybody. We had to fix our military. And right now, we’re in a big process of doing that. Seven-hundred billion and then $716 billion next year.
So we’re going to make a decision tonight, or very shortly thereafter. And you’ll be hearing the decision. But we can’t let atrocities like we all witnessed — and you can see that and it’s horrible — we can’t let that happen. In our world, we can’t let that happen, especially when we’re able to — because of the power of the United States, because of the power of our country — we’re able to stop it.
I want to thank Ambassador John Bolton for joining us. I think he’s going to be a fantastic representative of our team. He’s highly respected by everybody in this room. And, John, I want to thank you very much. This is going to be a lot of work. Interesting day. He picked today as his first day. So, Generals, I think he picked the right day. But certainly, you’re going to find it very exciting. But you are going to do a fantastic job and I appreciate you joining.
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER BOLTON: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you all very much.
Q: Are you concerned about what the FBI might find, Mr. President? Do you have any concern?
TRUMP: No, I’m not.
Q: Why don’t you just fire Mueller?
TRUMP: Why don’t I just fire Mueller?
Q: Yeah, just fire the guy.
TRUMP: Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens. But I think it’s really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, “You should fire him.” Again, they found nothing. And in finding nothing, that’s a big statement. If you know the person who’s in charge of the investigation, you know about that. Deputy Rosenstein — Rod Rosenstein — he wrote the letter, very critical, of Comey.
One of the things they said: “I fired Comey.” Well, I turned out to do the right thing, because if you look at all of the things that he’s done and the lies, and you look at what’s gone on at the FBI with the insurance policy and all of the things that happened — turned out I did the right thing.
But he signed — as you know, he also signed the FISA warrant. So Rod Rosenstein, who’s in charge of this, signed a FISA warrant, and he also signed a letter that was essentially saying to fire James Comey. And he was right about that. He was absolutely right.
So we’ll see what happens. I think it’s disgraceful, and so does a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch hunt.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank all very much.
Q: Any more clarity on who was responsible, sir?
TRUMP: Say it?
Q: Any more clarity on who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack?
TRUMP: We are getting clarity on that — who was responsible for the weapons attack. We are getting some very good clarity, actually. We have some pretty good answers.
Q: What are your options?
TRUMP: We have a lot of options, militarily. And we’ll be letting you know pretty soon. Probably after the fact.
Thank you all very much.