As his frustration with the investigation into his campaign and business expands into threatening new fronts, President Donald Trump refused to say Wednesday whether he plans to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“As far as the two gentlemen you told me about, they’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months,” Trump said during a joint press conference with the prime minister of Japan. “Four months. Five months. And they’re still here. So we want to get the investigation over with, done with, put it behind us.”
Mueller has been investigating possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian officials, as well as possible obstruction of justice. Trump said Wednesday he has co-operated with Mueller’s investigators and that his team had turned over more than a million documents.
“We want to get the investigation over with, done with,” Trump said, adding that he hoped that the probe was “coming to an end.”
Trump and his allies hit a new level of anxiety after the raid on his personal attorney’s office, fearful of deeper exposure for Trump, his inner circle and his adult children – and more than concerned that they don’t know exactly what is in the records and electronic devices seized last week.
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There is also some worry that Michael Cohen, the self-described legal fixer who helped make bad stories go away and took a leading role in Trump Organization projects in foreign outposts, may strike a deal with prosecutors out of concern about his own prospects.
Trump’s anger at the probe has intensified, with him musing publicly and privately in recent weeks about firing Mueller and Rosenstein. Those around Trump have hoped that this week’s visit to his estate Mar-a-Lago, where he is generally happier, along with the tightly scheduled summit with Abe, would somewhat distract him from Cohen and former FBI director James Comey’s book and publicity tour.
But White House aides have also expressed worry that they can control Trump less at his palatial Florida estate, where he is known to seek out counsel from club members and get revved up by their at-times provocative advice. Trump took to Twitter earlier Wednesday to unleash both on Comey, whom he called “slippery” and the “worst director in FBI history,” and the porn star Stormy Daniels matter, which returned to the headlines in the wake of the Cohen raid.
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Cohen paid the money to buy Daniels’ silence after her alleged affair with Trump. The porn actress and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, released a sketch Tuesday of the man they said threatened Daniels in 2011 if she ever went public with her claims against Trump.
“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!” Trump tweeted in what was apparently his first comments on the allegations except for brief remarks made earlier this month in response to a reporter’s questions on Air Force One. He has denied the affair.
The federal raid on Cohen’s office and hotel room, carried out a week ago in New York, sought bank records, information on his dealings in the taxi industry, his communications with the Trump campaign and information on payments he made in 2016 to Daniels and to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also alleges a relationship with Trump. Court proceedings Monday dealt with who gets to look at Cohen’s seized documents and devices before they are turned over to prosecutors.
Though Cohen once said he “would take a bullet” for Trump, he is aware of the possible outcome – including potential prison time – and has expressed worry about his family, said a person who has spoken to the lawyer in recent days but was not authorized to discuss private conversations. Cohen has not been charged with anything.
Trump’s moods have grown darker in recent days, as he lashes out at the “overreach” of the raid. Further angering the president is that the raid was triggered in part by a referral from Mueller. The seizure was authorized by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Though a bipartisan effort was in the works in the Senate to protect Mueller, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he would not bring the legislation to the floor for a vote and that it wasn’t necessary because Trump wouldn’t fire Mueller.