‘Arrest me’: wild day for ex-Trump aide Sam Nunberg, defying Mueller before admitting he’ll cooperate
Sam Nunberg first worked for one of Donald Trump’s businesses and later helped advise Trump’s presidential campaign, but he was fired in August 2015 amid reports that he posted racially charged messages on Facebook
A former Trump campaign aide said he would defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller, unloaded on President Donald Trump and his campaign, then later said he would probably end up cooperating with Mueller, in a series of stunning interviews Monday.
Sam Nunberg said he thinks Mueller may already have incriminating evidence on Trump directly, although he would not say what that evidence might be.
He also said the president probably knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his top campaign staff and a team of Russians.
Shortly after he lobbed that allegation, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders rebuffed him during the White House press briefing.
“I definitely think he doesn’t know that for sure because he’s incorrect. As we’ve said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign,” Sanders said.
“He hasn’t worked at the White House, so I certainly can’t speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.”
Nunbert also said he thinks former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page worked with the Kremlin. “I believe that Carter Page was colluding with the Russians,” Nunberg said on CNN.
“That Carter Page is a weird dude.”
Page called Nunberg’s accusations “laughable”.
Page also has figured in the Russia investigation. The Justice Department and FBI obtained a secret warrant in October 2016 to monitor his communications. His activities during the presidential campaign that raised concerns included a July 2016 trip to Moscow.
A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.
During his afternoon tirades, Nunberg detailed his interview with Mueller’s investigators, mocking them for asking questions like if he had heard Russian being spoken in Trump Tower. He then said he would reject a sweeping demand from Mueller for communications between him and top Trump advisers.
“I think it would be funny if they arrested me,” Nunberg said on MSNBC.
He later added on CNN: “I’m not going to the grand jury. I’m not going to spend 30 hours going over my emails. I’m not doing it. Why do I have to do it? … I’m not cooperating. Arrest me.”
But later on Monday night, Nunberg told Associated Press that, in the end, he’s likely “going to end up cooperating with them.”
Nunberg is not the first person to challenge Mueller. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a lawsuit in January challenging Mueller’s authority to indict him.
Nunberg, a protégé of veteran political operative Roger Stone, was Trump’s political adviser prior to the start of his White House run.
He was fired in August 2015, over racially charged Facebook posts, after he and Stone lost an internal power struggle with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
It’s thus unclear how much Nunberg would know about the inner workings of the Trump campaign or the White House, where he never worked.
Trump filed a US$10 million lawsuit against Nunberg in July 2016, accusing him of violating a non-disclosure agreement, but they settled the suit one month later.
John Dean, a former White House counsel to Richard Nixon during Watergate, tweeted Monday that Nunberg can’t flatly refuse to comply with a grand jury subpoena.
“This is not Mr Nunberg’s decision, and he will be in criminal contempt for refusing to show up. He can take the Fifth Amendment. But he can’t tell the grand Jury to get lost.”
Additional reporting by The Guardian