Trump says Mueller probe was an ‘attempted takeover of our government’
President Donald Trump railed against special counsel Robert Mueller’s now-completed investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on Wednesday, calling it an “attempted takeover of our government.”
“We can never allow this treasonous, these treasonous acts to happen to another president,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, in his first TV interview since Attorney General William Barr summarized the principal findings of Mueller’s report in a memo to Congress on Sunday.
Barr’s memo said Mueller, after a nearly two-year investigation, did not establish that Trump’s campaign or associates conspired with Russia. Mueller’s investigation of whether the president committed obstruction of justice did not conclude Trump committed a crime, but it also “does not exonerate him,” Barr quoted from Mueller’s report.
“This was an attempted takeover of our government, of our country, an illegal takeover,” Trump said. “If it were the other way around, where I was doing it to President Obama or a Democrat, it would be virtually the maximum sentence that you can find.”
He added, “If the Republican Party had done this to the Democrats, if we had done this to President Obama, you’d have 100 people in jail right now and it would be treason. It would be considered treason and they’d be in jail for the rest of their lives.”
The president accused former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former FBI agent Peter Strzok and “hundreds of others” of treason and implied they could be punished for it.
“In 50 years from now, in 100 years from now, if someone tries the same thing, they have to know that the penalty will be very, very great, if and when they get caught.”
When asked if he was now thinking about pardoning any of his former associates who were charged with, convicted of, or pleaded guilty to crimes as a part of the Mueller probe, Trump demurred.
The president said he didn’t “want to talk about pardons now,” but added the investigation was “sad on so many levels.”
By Kate Sullivan and Nikki Carvajal, CNN