Trump says he ‘just finished, very easily’ answering questions in Russia probe

President says investigation has ‘wasted millions of dollars’

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
@MythiliSk
Friday 16 November 2018 23:24
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Trump says he writes his own answers to questions from Robert Mueller

Donald Trump says he has “very easily” completed his written answers for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between his 2016 campaign team and Russia.

The president indicated that the answers had not yet been submitted to Mr Mueller’s office, although the president’s lawyers are expected to turn them over in the coming days.

“My lawyers don’t write answers. I write answers. I was asked a series of questions. I’ve answered them very easily,” Mr Trump said at the White House.

Although Mr Trump has said he was open to an interview by Mr Mueller’s team, the president’s lawyers ultimately decided on the written questions. The legal team, according to CNN, had issues with the nature of some of the questions, but responses were written for all of them.

Displaying his obvious dislike for the probe, Mr Trump said: “You have to always be careful when you answer, with people that probably have bad intentions. Now, the questions were very routinely answered by me.”

The president met with lawyers nearly every day this week in sessions to review his answers, including a four-hour session on Wednesday.

The president once again called the entire investigation – which has resulted in multiple indictments against former campaign officials - a “witch hunt”. He once again denied there was any collusion.

Donald Trump suggests he would override his legal team submit to interview with Robert Mueller

“I’m not agitated [by the Russia investigation] ... It’s a hoax, the whole thing is a hoax, no collusion ... No I’m very happy ... There should have never been any Mueller investigation ... They’ve wasted millions and millions of dollars,” the president added.

He then launched into a tangent about the 2016 election, saying: “From what I hear [the investigation] is ending. And I’m sure it’ll be just fine. The fact is I was a much better candidate than Hillary Clinton. I went to the right states. She went to the wrong states. She was not a good campaigner. I campaigned very well and I won the electoral college.”

“I’m sure [the questions are] tricked-up because, you know, they like to catch people,” Mr Trump added.

Mr Mueller’s team nor the Department of Justice have indicated the investigation is almost done.

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Tensions between Mr Mueller and Mr Trump, and their supporters, has grown in the days since the president asked for former attorney general Jeff Sessions’ resignation last week.

Mr Sessions had previously recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation run by the FBI because he was also on the president’s 2016 campaign team.

The president then appointed Mr Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, who wrote an opinion piece before he joined the Justice Department last year noting Mr Mueller should end the investigation.

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had been in charge of the probe.

A provision could be attached to the upcoming government spending bill which seeks to have Congress vote to protect Mr Mueller’s job and allow the investigation to continue despite Mr Whitaker’s appointment. A vote over a protection bill in the Senate was denied by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week.

Democrats have called on Mr Whitaker – who has not been confirmed by the Senate - to recuse himself from the Russia investigation over previous comments relating to the scope of the probe.

Mr Whitaker is said to have told Republican Senator Lindsey Graham that the special counsel’s probe would proceed, according to a person familiar with the conversation, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

As part of the larger investigation, Mr Mueller’s team has already brought indictments against several former Trump officials including the former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and deputy manager Rick Gates over lobbying that is not connected to the Russia probe. Mr Trump’s former national security advisor Mike Flynn, and former campaign foreign affairs aide George Papadopoulos have also both admitted to lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation.

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