AP FACT CHECK: Trump claims a steady hand with Mueller
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has credited himself with a steady hand in dealing with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, despite publicly toying with the idea of firing Mueller and denouncing the probe repeatedly as a “witch hunt.”
At one level, the White House indeed appears to have been “cooperative,” as Trump stated.
A look at his Thursday tweet on the matter and the complexities behind it:
TRUMP: “I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller (Unlike the Clintons!). I have full confidence in Ty Cobb, my Special Counsel, and have been fully advised throughout each phase of this process.”
THE FACTS: Despite Trump’s insults and fury with the process, there has been a degree of cooperation. More than 20 White House employees have been made available for interviews with Mueller’s team. The White House has turned over more than 20,000 pages of records; Trump’s campaign has given Mueller more than 1.4 million pages.
Trump, though, has been far from agreeable in his public statements and some of his actions.
He repeatedly has assailed intelligence and law enforcement agencies, most recently calling Mueller’s inquiry “an attack on our country.” He has worked in tandem with some conservatives to lay the groundwork either to dismiss or discredit Mueller.
Mueller is investigating potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign in 2016, and whether the president’s actions constitute obstruction of justice.
In tweets dating to last May, when Mueller was appointed special counsel by Trump’s Justice Department, Trump has branded the investigation a “witch hunt” and accused it of being tainted by Democrats, even though Mueller is a Republican.
Trump has derided the FBI’s reputation as being the “worst in history” and retweeted a post saying new FBI Director Christopher Wray “needs to clean house.”
In a barrage of tweets last month, for instance, Trump said the investigation never should have started, claimed it was based on “fraudulent activities” and was a “WITCH HUNT,” and contended it was being led by “13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters.”
In February, Trump blessed the release of a classified memo on FBI surveillance powers that was assembled by Republicans on the House intelligence committee and that he said vindicated him.
Trump dismissed pleas from his FBI director and the second-ranking Justice official, Trump-nominated Rod Rosenstein, to keep the memo under wraps because it was inaccurate and lacked critical context.
Committee Democrats later released their own memo to counter the argument that Republicans had promoted in their document — that the FBI and Justice Department conspired against Trump as they investigated his ties to Russia.
The White House had objected to the Democratic memo’s release, citing national security concerns. That sent the Democrats back to negotiations with the FBI, which then approved a version with material blacked out.
Trump had no such concerns about the GOP memo, which he declassified in full over strong objections from the FBI.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
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