Trump-Russia collusion investigations

Donald Trump ‘very easily’ answers Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion questions

  • President’s responses, yet to be submitted, represent his first official comment to prosecutors probing alleged collusion during 2016 election campaign
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2018, 4:28am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2018, 6:41pm

US President Donald Trump said on Friday he had “very easily” answered written questions from special counsel Robert Mueller, though he speculated that the questions had been “tricked up” to try to catch him in a lie. He said he had not submitted his answers to investigators yet.

“You have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions,” Trump told reporters in his latest swipe at the probe into alleged 2016 election interference and possible ties between Moscow and the president’s campaign.

Trump did not say when he would turn over the answers to Mueller, but his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said it could happen next week. The special counsel has signalled a willingness to accept written answers on matters related to allegations of collusion with Russia. But Giuliani said repeatedly the president would not answer Mueller’s questions on possible obstruction of justice.

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During months of back-and-forth negotiations with the special counsel office, Trump’s lawyers advised the president against sitting down for an interview.

Though he spent hours with his lawyers, Trump insisted: “My lawyers don’t write answers, I write answers.”

The president’s remarks were fresh evidence of his return to the ominous rhythms of the Russia probe after spending heady weeks enjoying campaign rallies before the midterm elections.

Despite his insistence on Friday that he’s “very happy” with how things are going, his frustrations with the ongoing probe have been evident everywhere from his overheated Twitter feed this week to his private grousing that the special counsel may target his family. Adding to his grim outlook has been the barrage of criticism he’s getting over his choice for acting attorney general and late-arriving election results that have largely been tipping towards House Democrats.

“The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess,” Trump tweeted Thursday as part of a series of morning posts. The investigators don’t care “how many lives they can ruin,” he wrote.

A day later, he tried to put a rosier shine on the situation, telling reporters: “I’m sure it will be just fine.”

After a relative lull in the run-up to the midterms, the Russia probe has returned to the forefront of Washington conversation and cable news captions. There has been widespread media coverage of two Trump allies – Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi – who say they expect to be charged.

The president has expressed concerns behind closed doors that Mueller is closing in on his inner circle, including potentially his eldest son.

For months, Trump has told confidants he fears that Donald Trump Jnr, perhaps accidentally, broke the law by being untruthful with investigators in the aftermath of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, according to one Republican close to the White House.

Trump has also complained about efforts in the Senate by his long-time foe, Senator Jeff Flake, to introduce legislation to protect the special counsel, according to the officials and Republicans.

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Additionally, the president has told confidants in recent days that he is deeply frustrated by criticism of his choice of Matthew Whitaker for acting attorney general, according to four officials and Republicans close to the White House who spoke on condition of anonymity. Whitaker has been a vocal opponent of the special counsel probe.

One argument against Whitaker was he has not been confirmed by the Senate. Trump, in turn, contended that the criticism was unfair since Mueller also was not confirmed for his post. The special counsel position does not require confirmation and the former FBI director was confirmed for that previous job.