During a joint news conference with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Wednesday, President Trump dodged a question about whether he’d be open to sitting down for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Instead of answering, Trump began his response by asserting “there’s been no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians, or Trump and Russians. No collusion.” But whether or not there was collusion remains an open question, and Trump has established a precedent for lying about his campaign’s Russia contacts during previous news conferences.
Trump then detoured into talking about about how Hillary Clinton was treated during the course of the FBI investigation into her emails, before asserting that the whole investigation is “a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election.” (In fact, the investigation began in July 2016, months before the election occurred.)
“It has been determined there is no collusion,” Trump said, making another false claim, as there is in fact substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that collusion occurred.
Trump closed by suggesting that he may not in fact be open talking to Mueller after all.
“When they have no collusion and nobody has found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview,” he said.
While Trump’s legal team has repeatedly promised to fully cooperate with Mueller’s investigation, multiple recent reports have indicated that they’re wavering now that the special counsel has expressed interest in interviewing their notorious truth-averse client.
It’s unclear whether Trump would get away with refusing to comply with a subpoena from Mueller. But as NBC details, precedent established during the Nixon and Clinton administration suggests that Trump has “no authority to decline.”
Trump himself has previously indicated he would be willing to talk to Mueller. During a news conference in June, Trump said he was “100 percent” willing to testify under oath that former FBI Director James Comey lied during his testimony to Congress when he said that Trump asked him to quash an active investigation into one of his associates in February of last year, weeks after the president asked his former FBI director to pledge personal loyalty.
Evidence that has emerged since last summer has corroborated Comey’s version of events.
The discrepancy between what Trump said then and what he’s saying now was encapsulated by a USA Today breaking news alert above a report about Trump’s comments last June.