During an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, President Trump answered exactly why he never agreed to conduct a sit-down interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The ABC News host asked the president about potentially firing the special counsel, something former White House counsel Gary McGahn recently testified that Trump instructed him to do.
Here’s the exchange:
“No special counsel should have ever been appointed,” Trump said. “You know why? because there was no crime. they had no evidence of a crime.”
“—He lays out a lot of evidence, including the episode where you ask your White House counsel, Don McGahn—you tell him, ‘Mueller has to go.’ You call him twice and say ‘Mueller has to go. Call me when it’s done,” Stephanopoulos interjects speaking of Mueller’s final report.
“Now the story on that very simply: Number one, I was never gonna fire Mueller,” Trump clarified. “I never suggested firing Mueller.”
“That’s not what he says,” the ABC News host said, again speaking of Mueller.
“I don’t care what he says. It doesn’t matter. that was to show everyone what a good counsel he was,” Trump contended.
“But why would he [McGahn] lie under oath to Robert Mueller?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen, including you, including the media, that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest,” Trump answered.
“—and has to go?” the ABC News host asked.
“I didn’t say that,” Trump defended.
ABC News adds:
At the president’s instruction McGahn is currently fighting a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify publicly about those conversations with Trump, among other things. McGahn spent nearly 30 hours with the special counsel’s investigators testifying under oath and was one of most quoted aides to the president to appear in the report.
Trump also defended his decision not to sit for an in-person interview with Mueller’s investigators – something he had repeatedly said he would do – by expressing concern investigators were looking to catch him in lies or misstatements. He ultimately submitted written responses to questions from the investigators.
Later in the interview, Stephanopoulos asked: “If you answer these questions to me now, why not answer them to Robert Mueller under oath?”
“Because they were looking to get us for lies, for slight misstatements,” the president answered.
“I looked at what happened to people and it was very unfair, very, very unfair,” Trump added, speaking of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, and others who were charged under the Special Counsel investigation. “very unfair. I gave them 1.5 million pages of documents, right? I gave them four or five hundred witnesses. I let Don McGahn testify. He was the White House counsel. I let him testify.”
“—but you didn’t answer questions on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos interjected.
“Now, wait a minute, wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing,” Trump responded.
“Not on obstruction,” the ABC News host said.
“I don’t know. I answered a lot of questions. that gave me questions, I answered them in writing,” Trump defended.
Watch the exchange below: