Trump opposes officials testifying to US Congress over Mueller report

Democrats look to question Trump aides and Mueller to possibly build impeachment case

US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump. Mr Trump says he has not committed ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors’. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump. Mr Trump says he has not committed ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors’. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

 

United States president Donald Trump has said he would oppose all congressional efforts to force current and former aides to testify as Democrats ramp up investigations following the release of the Mueller report.

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Mr Trump told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday morning as he prepared to board the Marine One helicopter.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Trump lashed out at Democrats, saying he had done “nothing wrong” and pushing back against suggestions by a handful of Democrats that he should be impeached.

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Mr Trump tweeted. “Not only are there no ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ there are no Crimes by me at all.”

A day earlier, Mr Trump told the Washington Post that he was opposed to officials testifying before Congress in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election following the publication of the special counsel’s report last week.

In an interview, Mr Trump had rejected the idea that officials and former aides should be compelled to testify before Democratic-controlled committees in Congress – particularly since dozens of members of his administration had already provided testimony to Mr Mueller during the course of his two-year probe.

“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan,” Mr Trump said on Tuesday.

The US justice department last week released a report by Mr Mueller, a widely respected former FBI director, into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, links between the Trump campaign and Russia and possible obstruction of justice.

President is ‘not exonerated’

Mr Mueller concluded that there had been no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. On the question of obstruction, however, he said the evidence did “not exonerate” the president. Mr Mueller did not try to determine whether Mr Trump should be charged because of justice department guidelines barring the indictment of a sitting president.

Democrats responded to the Mueller report by calling for congressional investigations to determine whether the evidence found by the special counsel warranted further action. Some Democrats, including senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, two leading presidential contenders, have also called for impeachment proceedings against Mr Trump.

Mr Mueller outlined 10 cases where the president had tried to derail the Russia probe, including a failed effort to convince Don McGahn, then White House counsel, to fire Mr Mueller. On Monday, Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic head of the House judiciary committee, issued a subpoena for Mr McGahn to testify before the panel.

Democrats have also called for Mr Mueller to testify before Congress. In addition to asking him about the evidence related to actions that Mr Trump took to try to impede the probe, they want to ask the special counsel whether he believes Congress should attempt to impeach Mr Trump based on the evidence found by his team.

In the days after the Mueller report was released, Mr Trump, a Republican, slammed the rival party for continuing to push for more investigations into his actions.

“I allowed my lawyers and all the people to go and testify to Mueller,” Mr Trump told the Washington Post. “I was so transparent; they testified for so many hours. They have all of that information that’s been given.” – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019