As he arrived at the World Economic Forum on Friday, President Trump responded to another "bombshell" Russia probe report by The New York Times. The paper's claim that he tried to "fire" special counsel Robert Mueller last June, Trump told reporters, was just more "Fake news. Fake news."
On Thursday, the Times reported that in June 2017 Trump ordered a high-level White House attorney to ax Mueller when it became clear that the special counsel was looking for a pattern of possible obstruction of justice by the president. According to the report, Trump backed down only after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.
But as The Wall Street Journal reports, when Trump was asked by reporters on Friday about the Times' allegations, he responded, "Fake news. Fake news."
This week, the tension between the White House and Mueller's team intensified amid a series of reports suggesting more evidence of anti-Trump bias among some key FBI personnel. Particularly damning are some newly-unearthed messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page expressing a desire to take it easy on Hillary Clinton because "she might be our next president."
Meanwhile, as the Journal notes, Trump's team has spent the last few weeks "negotiating the precise terms under which Mr. Trump might consent to an interview with the special counsel, according to people familiar with their efforts." Trump caused a stir Thursday when he said that he was "looking forward" to talking with Mueller and said he'd be glad to do so "under oath."
"There's been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever. And I’m looking forward to it," he told reporters, adding, "[S]ubject to my lawyers and all of that, but I would love to do it. ... Did Hillary do it under oath? ... Do you really not have an idea? I'll give you an idea: she didn’t do it under oath. But I would do it under oath."
While this is likely more Trumpian bluster than a real agreement to talk with Mueller, as Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro explains, Trump would be "a fool" to actually do what he said:
... Trump doesn’t sound like someone who has much to hide with regard to Trump-Russia collusion. By the same token, he doesn’t seem to understand the peril of the obstruction case Mueller is building against him; he probably figures there’s no underlying crime, so what the hell difference does it make if he fired James Comey for failing to say just that?
Still, Trump would be foolish to rely on the inherent sanctity of Robert Mueller to guard him against perjury traps. He should stay away — far, far away — from this probe and let his lawyers do the talking. Any decent lawyer will tell Trump the same.