In a press availability that was ostensibly about what the United States would do to respond to the grievous chemical attack in Syria, President Donald Trump took the opportunity to speak out strongly against the FBI for raiding the offices and home of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
He also left the door open to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
“Why don’t you just fire Mueller?” a reporter asked at the end of Trump’s lengthy rant.
“Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens, but it’s really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, ‘You should fire him.'”
Trump argued that “they found nothing,” bringing up Rosenstein’s letter which recommended former FBI Director James Comey’s firing, something Trump attempted to defend at length.
JUST IN: President Trump responds to question "why don't you just fire Mueller?"
"Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens … many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing." pic.twitter.com/1k1bkdb7LZ
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 9, 2018
“So we’ll see what happens,” Trump concluded. “I think it’s disgraceful and so does a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch hunt. Thank you very much.”
This is more uncertainty than the Trump White House or Trump himself has usually treated the question of whether he would try to sack the special counsel.
Last June, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump had confidence in Mueller and had no intention of firing him. In July, she said twice the president had no intention of firing Muller, and that she had no reason to doubt Mueller was conducting a fair investigation.
In October, Trump told reporters that he was not considering firing Mueller “at all.”
Last month, one of the few remaining lawyers on Trump’s legal team, Ty Cobb, denied that Trump was considering firing Mueller, despite a series of tweets wherein the president attacked the Mueller probe by name.
Earlier in Monday’s press gaggle, Trump talked about the fact that the FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen, “one of my personal attorneys, good man, and it’s a disgraceful situation,” Trump said.
He continued, actually likening the FBI raiding the offices of his personal attorney to an attack on the country. “It’s frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” Trump told reporters. “So when I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did. I said, that is really now in a whole new level of unfairness.
Trump then asserted that “they found no collusion whatsoever with Russia,” though he didn’t specify to whom he was referring.
He asserted that “this” — it was unclear if Trump incorrectly meant the staff working in the Office of Special Counsel — “is the most biased group of people” … “Democrats all, or just about all either Democrats or a couple of Republicans that work for President Obama, they’re not looking at the other side.”
Trump then argued that no one was looking at the supposed “crimes” committed by Hillary Clinton. He said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country, but you’ll figure that out.”
Again and again lamenting the whole situation a “disgrace,” Trump described what he considered the “fantastic job” his administration had done, and pointing to the news of the FBI raid as the reason for Monday’s stock market fall (instead of, say, the CBO report which found that the federal budget deficit would grow to $1 trillion two years faster than originally expected).