Trump attacks investigation into Russian interference in 2016 election
President says it is disgraceful questions concerning ‘Russian Witch Hunt’ were ‘leaked’
President Trump meeting with the crew and passengers of Southwest Airlines flight 1380 in the Oval Office on Tuesday. An engine on the flight from New York to Dallas exploded, killing a passenger sitting near a window. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
US president Donald Trump attacked the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election after the New York Times published a list of questions that have been drawn up by Robert Mueller as part of his investigation.
The newspaper published 49 questions which it said had been passed to Mr Trump’s lawyers as part of discussions about a potential interview with the president by the special counsel team.
The questions reveal the breadth and depth of the investigation that began as an inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election but has moved to encompass a much wider range of issues.
The questions deal with a range of topics, from the president’s interaction with attorney general Jeff Sessions to his knowledge of former campaign chief Paul Manafort’s dealings with Russia, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s reported attempts to set up a back-channel communication with Russia.
In an early morning tweet Mr Trump said it was “so disgraceful” that “questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media,” in an apparent reference to the New York Times article.
The Fake News is going crazy making up false stories and using only unnamed sources (who don’t exist)
He said the investigation had begun with “illegally leaked classified information” and had made up a “phony crime” of collusion that never existed.
In a second tweet Mr Trump said: “It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to answer questions on the matter during the daily White House briefing, referring journalists to Mr Trump’s personal attorneys.
Separately, Mr Trump hit back overnight at reports that his chief-of-staff John Kelly had warned that the president was unhinged and had called him an “idiot”.
“The Fake News is going crazy making up false stories and using only unnamed sources (who don’t exist), “ he said. “They are totally unhinged, and the great success of this Administration is making them do and say things that even they can’t believe they are saying. Truly bad people!”
Ms Sanders quashed suggestions that have been raised in recent days that Mr Kelly may be appointed veterans’ affairs secretary following the withdrawal of Ronnie Jackson’s nomination, saying Mr Trump was “very happy” with his chief-of-staff.
Ms Sanders also confirmed that Mr Jackson, who was forced to withdraw his name from the nomination process after allegations of misconduct, was no longer Mr Trump’s personal doctor, but remained part of the White House medical team.