WASHINGTON — In a series of tweets Sunday, President Donald Trump launched arguably his most aggressive attacks yet on special counsel Robert Mueller and his Russia investigation.
The president referred to Mueller’s probe — which already has produced multiple indictments and multiple guilty pleas — as a “rigged witch hunt” and an “illegal scam.”
But Trump’s attacks on Mueller also contained numerous factual inaccuracies and flat-out misstatements. Here is a fact check on the president's Tweets:
Although some of Mueller’s associates have donated to Democrats, Mueller is a Republican. And the Trump official who supervises him and the investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is also a Republican.
And the Russia investigation — code-named “Crossfire Hurricane” — originated from Trump adviser George Papadopoulos’ revelation to an Australian diplomat, in the spring of 2016, that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Even Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and other Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have admitted that Papadopoulos, not the dossier, triggered the Russia investigation.
Rosenstein has testified that he knows of no disqualifying conflict of interest with Mueller.
In an interview with CNN Monday, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was unable to explain Trump’s allegation of Mueller's conflict of interest:
CNN: What's the conflict?
GIULIANI: I can't tell you. I’m not sure I know exactly what the conflict is. I have a good idea what it is, it's one that would have kept me out of the investigation.
It appears, however, that Trump might be referring to Mueller leaving Trump’s golf club as evidence of a “very nasty & contentious business relationship.”
In addition to serving as FBI director under Obama, Mueller also served as FBI director under George W. Bush, a fact omitted in Trump's tweet.
And, as the July 13 indictments of the 12 Russian intelligence officials make clear, the Russian interference via DCLeaks, Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was done to hurt Hillary Clinton and the Democrats and help Trump and the GOP.
An example from the indictments: “The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with U.S. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank u for writing back . . . do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?” On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow . . . it would be a great pleasure to me.”
Another example: On or about July 6, 2016, Organization 1 [presumably WikiLeaks] added, “if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tweo [sic] days prefable [sic] because the DNC [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after.” The Conspirators responded, “ok . . . i see.” Organization 1 explained, “we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary . . . so conflict between bernie and hillary is interesting.”