June 17, 2019
In addition to his assurances that “oppo” research on a political rival would be acceptable to “anyone” inside the Beltway—even if it were offered by a hostile nation such as Russia—President Donald Trump, told ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos last week in an exclusive interview that he had “never suggested firing [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller.”
In doing so, ABC News noted, the president directly disputed the account of a key witness in Mueller’s investigation—former White House Counsel Don McGahn—saying that it “doesn’t matter” what McGahn testified to the special counsel’s team.
Taking it one step further, Trump told Stephanopoulos that McGahn “may have been confused” when he told Mueller that Trump instructed him multiple times to have the acting attorney general remove the special counsel because of perceived conflicts of interest.
“The story on that very simply: No. I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller,” Trump told Stephanopoulos, according to the ABC report.
But when Stephanopoulos pushed back and referenced McGahn’s testimony, Trump became defiant. “I don’t care what [McGahn] says, it doesn’t matter,” Trump said.
The rest of the ABC News transcript went as follows
“Why would [McGahn] lie under oath?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer,” Trump said. “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.”
“And has to go?” Stephanopoulos followed up.
“I didn’t say that,” Trump insisted.
And if Trump has anything to do with it, McGahn will not be asked to set the record straight: At the president’s instruction, McGahn currently is fighting a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify publicly about those conversations with Trump, among other things, the Times reports.
Research contact: @ABC