Politics

Trump Pans Leaked Mueller Questions on ‘Russian Witch Hunt’

The president complained that many of the special counsel's queries concern alleged obstruction of justice instead of collusion

Leaked questions that special counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask President Donald Trump as part of the “Russian Witch Hunt” probe aren’t about “collusion” at all, Trump complained Tuesday on Twitter.

“So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media. No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

“It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!” Trump added.

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to serve as special counsel for the probe in May 2017, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation in March 2017, and Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

Comey has said that he asked a friend of his to leak memos after his firing, detailing his conversations with Trump in order to prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

Although Mueller was tapped to investigate Russia’s election interference and allegations of collusion between Trump campaign officials, the probe took another turn after Trump fired Comey.

The dozens of questions, which were leaked to The New York Times, concerned four main topics: Trump’s firing of Comey, former national security adviser Michael Flynn,  Sessions, and Trump campaign officials’ contact with Russian interests.

Fox News’ John Roberts tweeted pictures of the questions Tuesday.

Whether or not Trump obstructed justice before, during or after firing Comey while Comey was investigating collusion allegations was a common thread between the topics.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah also responded to the leaked questions Tuesday during an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

“Well, I think the president spelled it out in his tweet,” Shah said. “This investigation began as James Comey indicated in his testimony from his own leaked memos, which contained classified information, which the Department of Justice inspector general is now investigating.”

“Now you have these questions that are leaked. I don’t know the veracity or accuracy of that leak, but if they are accurate, the overwhelming majority of those questions don’t focus on the underlying premise of this special counsel, which was to focus on this issue of collusion with the Russian government,” Shah added.

Related: Wisenberg Sees ‘Dereliction’ if Mueller Hasn’t Interviewed Russian Lawyer

Noting that the Russian collusion investigation has been going on for “over a year” and included interviews with “dozens of witnesses” and “millions” of pages of documents provided, Shah said there has been “not a shred of evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.”

“So, you know, we have been cooperating as a White House with this probe but we are a little frustrated that, you know, the focus of it is not near where it was kind of created to focus on, which is the collusion question,” Shah said.

Although Trump has not yet agreed to meet with Mueller for direct questioning, Mueller’s team gave the set of questions to Trump lawyers. Although Trump has said repeatedly that he would be willing to meet with Mueller face to face, members of the president’s team are in disagreement over the issue.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage image: Donald Trump, CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)

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