For nearly two years, President Trump maintained his own innocence against allegations of collusion with Russian entities to win the 2016 presidential election, calling the investigation a “witch hunt” on occasions.
The president seemed to change his tone some during a meeting with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl who asked him if he thought Special Counsel Robert Mueller “acted honorably” during the investigation, ABC News reports.
“Yes, he did,” Trump answered.
The president did offer some critiques of the investigative process, saying other people have done much worse than he was accused of, but they are not targeted so fiercely.
“It’s 100 percent the way it should have been,” Trump said, per the report. “I wish it could have gone a lot sooner, a lot quicker. There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things, I would say treasonous things against our country. Those people will certainly be looked at. I’ve been looking at them for a long time and I’m saying ‘why haven’t they been looked at?’ Congress, many of them you know who they are. They’ve done so many evil things.”
Mueller investigated collusion and much more but was unable to pin any legal charges against Trump.
“I will tell you I love this country. I love this country as much as I can anything — my family, my country, my God, but what they did was a false narrative. It was a terrible thing,” the president continued via ABC News. “We can never let this happen to another president again. I can tell you that. Very few people I know could have handled it. We can never, ever let this happen to another president again.”
ABC News' @jonkarl: "Mr. President, do you think Robert Mueller acted honorably?"
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 25, 2019
Trump also reiterated his view Attorney General William Barr should decide whether to make the full report becomes public.
“Up to the attorney general, wouldn’t bother me at all,” Trump said, referring to a public release. Trump also said he isn’t thinking about pardoning anyone sentenced during the probe.
The summary of the report, submitted to Congress Sunday by Barr, said there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Mueller did not come to a conclusion on obstruction of justice, according to Barr’s summary, so Barr took that on himself, concluding that the evidence Muller found didn’t support a charge, although Barr didn’t reveal all that Mueller discovered.
Trump is undoubtedly looking to reset his administration after having the weight of the Mueller investigation finally off of his shoulders and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders similarly said the president was moving forward after the “complete and total exoneration.”
“It is a complete and total exoneration, and here’s why, because the special counsel, they said they couldn’t make a decision one way or the other. The way the process works is then they leave that up to the attorney general. The attorney general and the deputy attorney general went through and based their decision on Mueller’s investigation. This wasn’t based on just their own ideas and their own thinking. It was based on Mueller’s investigation,” Sanders told NBC on Monday.
Trump went as far as to call the entire investigation an ““illegal takedown that failed” on Sunday. Trump made the claim despite Mueller having been appointed as special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after the president’s own decision to fire then-FBI Director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into possible Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Trump and congressional Republicans have claimed that there was wrongdoing in the way the investigation was carried out.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway aired those grievances Monday morning, sharing sharp criticism of those who “let this lie fly for two years, hanging and harrassing and trying to embarass — and worse — those of us connected to the 2016 campaign.” Those critics now owe Trump, his family and the country an apology, Conway said on Fox News.