President Donald Trump went after the special counsel
Robert Mueller on Monday in his most direct attack yet on the
former FBI director.
He called Mueller “disgraced and discredited,” and
referred to his team of prosecutors as “thugs” who enjoy
“ruining people’s lives.”
On Sunday, Trump’s lead lawyer Rudy Giuliani accused
the special counsel’s team of leaking stories to the press and
said he wouldn’t let Trump walk into a “perjury trap” by
agreeing to a sit-down interview with Mueller.
The unprecedentedly harsh and highly personal attacks
come as jurors are deliberating the fate of former Trump
campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who Mueller’s team tried on
tax and bank fraud charges.
In four tweets on Monday, President Donald Trump went after the
special counsel Robert Mueller in his most direct attack yet.
“Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of
Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House
Councel, only with my approval, for purposes of transparency,”
Trump tweeted, referring to White House lawyer Don McGahn’s
testimony with Mueller and misspelling “counsel.”
Mueller is overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russian
interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether
members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the race
in his favor. He is also investigating whether Trump sought to
obstruct the Russia probe at various points throughout the
A bombshell New York Times
article on Saturday reported that McGahn was a witness in the
special counsel’s obstruction of justice probe, and has sat for a
combined total 30 hours of testimony under oath with Muller’s
team, discussing key events he was privy to working for Trump.
In subsequent tweets, Trump continued: “Anybody needing
that much time when they know there is no Russian Collusion is
just someone … looking for trouble. They are enjoying ruining
people’s lives and REFUSE to look at the real corruption on the
Democrat side – the lies, the firings, the deleted Emails and
soooo much more! Mueller’s Angry Dems are looking to impact the
election. They are a National Disgrace!”
The “angry Democrat Thugs” was a reference to some of the
prosecutors on Mueller’s team. PolitiFact wrote in March that
at least 12 of the prosecutors on Mueller’s team are registered
Democrats, some of whom have donated to Democratic politicians in
the past, and one more has been reported to be a Democrat.
Mueller is a registered Republican who has been appointed to
different positions in the federal government by both Republican
and Democratic presidents, including Trump’s own deputy attorney
general Rod Rosenstein. He was director of the FBI for 12 years.
In the fourth tweet, Trump asked,
“Where’s the Collusion?”
“They made up a phony crime called Collusion, and when there was
no Collusion they say there was Obstruction (of a phony crime
that never existed),” he wrote. “If you FIGHT BACK or say
anything bad about the Rigged Witch Hunt, they scream
Trump is correct in the sense that “collusion” is not itself a
denoted federal offense, but it is a catch-all term that
encompasses a number of federal crimes,
including conspiracy to defraud the United States.
The president has repeatedly accused his former
opponent Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party of committing
collusion, while simultaneously claiming it’s not a real crime
when it comes to his team and the Mueller investigation.
Battle over the truth
While Trump has tweeted dozens of times insinuating that the
Mueller probe is a “rigged witch hunt” and there was “no
collusion,” his referring to the prosecutors as “thugs” who “ruin
people’s lives” and calling Mueller “disgraced” is a highly
personal and unprecedented form of attack that could signal his
increasing distress over some of the investigation’s recent
Two sources with knowledge of the
president’s thinking told CNN that McGahn’s 30 hours of
interviews with Mueller “unnerved” Trump.
Reacting to Trump’s tweets, former federal prosecutor Joyce
Alene said, “Any prosecutor knows, you don’t waste 30 hours
on a witness who’s got nothing.”
Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also taken a more
aggressive and personal stance against Mueller in recent days.
After telling Business Insider on Thursday that he planned to
fight a potential grand jury subpoena from Mueller “all the way
to the Supreme Court”, Giuliani argued on “Meet the
Press” Sunday that he didn’t want Trump to get stuck in a
perjury trap in an interview with Mueller.
When host Chuck Todd pushed back by implying that telling the
truth would prevent a perjury charge, Giuliani caused an Internet
uproar by replying, “truth isn’t truth.”
Former federal prosecutor Roland Riopelle told Business Insider
on Friday that the defense of a perjury trap is a “long-ago
discredited phrase of law” that had never, to his knowledge, been
successful in a criminal court.
Giuliani, citing no evidence, also accused Mueller of leaking
multiple stories to the press, including The Times story about
‘Pulling out all the stops’
Trump’s tweets also come as jurors in Virginia are deliberating
the fate of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who
Mueller’s prosecutors have spent the last two weeks prosecuting
on 18 charges of tax and bank fraud.
The presiding judge, T.S. Ellis, instructed both sides to keep
politics out of the trial and only focus on the facts of the
But Trump’s name made into the courtroom on Friday when
Manafort’s lead attorney Kevin Downing said it was “great to have
the support of the President of the United States” — a comment
legal experts said may have
violated ethical standards.
Since the jury is not sequestered from consuming news media,
experts warn these statements, combined with Trump telling
reporters on Friday the Manafort trial was “very sad,” could have
an impact on how the jury perceives the credibility of the
prosecutors in the case.
“Totally inappropriate comment by Manafort’s attorney,” former
federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote on
Twitter. “They’re pulling out all the stops to get a hung jury.
If they do, it wouldn’t surprise me if Trump pardoned Manafort
before the case could be tried again.”