WASHINGTON – A former Donald Trump campaign aide appeared for hours before a federal grand jury Friday, after he defiantly insisted in a series of news interviews just days earlier that he intended to defy a subpoena in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Sam Nunberg spent more than six hours inside the federal courthouse in Washington. He declined to speak with journalists on the way in or out of the building, and it was not immediately clear what testimony he offered to the grand jury or what documents he provided.
His appearance marked a turnabout from extraordinary public statements Monday when Nunberg, in multiple interviews, balked at complying with a subpoena that sought his appearance before the grand jury as well as correspondence with other campaign officials. In doing so, he became the first witness in the Mueller probe to openly threaten to defy a subpoena.
But later that night, Nunberg, who initially suggested that he considered Mueller’s document demands unreasonable, told The Associated Press he had relented and predicted he’d wind up complying after all.
“I’m going to end up co-operating with them,” he said.
Nunberg said he worked for hours to produce the thousands of emails and other communications requested by Mueller, who is investigating whether Donald Trump’s campaign improperly co-ordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
“I thought it was a teachable moment,” he said of his 24 hours in the limelight.
So far, 19 people and three companies have been charged in Mueller’s investigation. Among those charged are President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and 13 Russia nationals accused in a hidden but powerful social media campaign to meddle in the American election. Five people, including Flynn, have pleaded guilty.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyers are currently negotiating the terms and scope of a possible interview with Mueller’s office.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.