Trump claims Russia investigation is ‘witch hunt’
US president continues to attack Jeff Sessions for stepping aside from inquiry
Donald Trump said: “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions (pictured) didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself.” Photograph: Lawrence Jackson/The New York Times
A day after suggesting that he had the “absolute right” to pardon himself for any crime, Mr Trump continued his attack on the Russia investigation in a series of early-morning tweets.
“The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself...I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined,” he said, noting that the attorney general “knew better than most that there was No Collusion!”
Mr Trump has repeatedly lambasted Mr Sessions – who he appointed after his election – for stepping aside from the Russian investigation. Despite firing several senior personnel over the past year, he has given no indication yet that he intends to replace the nation’s top law enforcement official.
Mr Trump’s comments were delivered hours after it emerged that his former campaign manager Paul Manafort allegedly tried to influence witnesses in the Russia investigation. Prosecutors for the Special Counsel investigation told a court that Mr Manafort and another individual attempted to persuade representatives of a public relations firm to falsely testify that they carried out lobbying for him in Europe rather than the United States.
The prosecutors are requesting that the terms of Mr Manafort’s parole be tightened – he is currently on house arrest pending trial.
A district judge in Washington DC set a June 15th hearing to consider the request.
Mr Manafort has already been charged with multiple offences including conspiracy and money laundering, with much of the activity taking place in 2016 while he was working for the Trump presidential campaign. The US president said over the weekend that the FBI should have informed him that Mr Manafort was under investigation for his ties with Russia and he would “never have hired him”.
NFL Players love their country, support our troops, give back to their communities and strive to make America a better place
Meanwhile, speculation about Mr Trump’s wife continued, as the First Lady took part in her first public engagement since undergoing treatment for a benign kidney issue last month. Melania Trump participated in a reception for the families of fallen military personnel at the White House on Monday evening, though the event was not open to the press. In a statement, the First Lady said it was a “a privilege” to host the families. “To all those who have lost loved ones in service to our country, our nation grieves with you,” she said. “It is a solemn reminder that we, the American people, are able to live as freely as we do because of the selfless sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.”
Her husband became embroiled in a feud related to another scheduled reception in the White House on Tuesday, after he disinvited the Superbowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles team from a reception to honour their victory. After several members of the team indicated that they would not attend the ceremony, Mr Trump cancelled the event. “The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team,” he said. “They disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart, in honour of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”
The White House pressed on with a curtailed version of the event, hosting a “musical celebration” of the National Anthem on Tuesday afternoon. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the decision by many players to not attend the event was a “political stunt”.
The US President has become embroiled in an increasingly divisive debate in America about sport and racism, criticising the decision of many NFL players not to stand during the national anthem.
The NFL Players’ Association expressed disappointment at the decision. “NFL Players love their country, support our troops, give back to their communities and strive to make America a better place,” the players’ association said in a statement.