WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump fired off angry tweets Sunday morning railing against the Justice Department special counsel’s Russia investigation and attacking the integrity of former FBI director James B. Comey and his former deputy, Andrew McCabe, charging that their notes from conversations with him were “Fake Memos.”
For the second straight day, Trump was unrestrained in his commentary about Robert Mueller III’s expanding investigation, which is probing not only Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible links to his campaign, but also whether the president has sought to obstruct justice.
Trump tweeted, “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added … does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”
The tweet overstates the partisan makeup of the special counsel’s team and falsely asserts that no Republicans are on it.
Mueller is a longtime Republican. He was nominated as FBI director in 2001 by a Republican president, George W. Bush, and was appointed special counsel by the Republican whom Trump picked to be deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein.
At least seven of the 17 lawyers brought on by Mueller – including James Quarles, Jeannie Rhee and Andrew Weissman – have donated to Democratic political candidates, five of them to Hillary Clinton, Trump’s 2016 opponent.
Under instruction from his attorneys, Trump has in the past been careful not to publicly criticize Mueller by name or otherwise directly antagonize the special counsel, but rather to make more general criticisms. On Saturday night, in an apparent change of strategy, Trump for the first time tweeted the name of the special counsel.
“The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” Trump wrote. “It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!”
The president’s attack comes after his personal attorney, John Dowd, on Saturday called for an end to the Mueller investigation. He initially told the Daily Beast that he was speaking on behalf of the president, though he later backtracked and told The Washington Post that he was speaking only for himself.
Trump also attacked Comey and McCabe, both regular foils for the president, in a pair of tweets Sunday.
McCabe, who was fired from the FBI late Friday night just hours before he was set to retire with full benefits, has kept contemporaneous notes of his interactions with Trump, according to two people familiar with his records. McCabe’s memos could prove useful to Mueller’s investigators in their obstruction-of-justice probe.
Trump tweeted, “Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?”
In an Oval Office meeting in May, Trump asked McCabe whom he had voted for in the 2016 election, several current and former U.S. officials have told The Post, and he complained about the political donations McCabe’s wife received for her failed 2015 Virginia state Senate campaign.
Comey also took contemporaneous notes of his interactions with Trump and confided in McCabe about those private conversations, including when Trump asked him for his loyalty.
Comey is publishing a memoir next month that is expected to detail his interactions with Trump and investigation of Russian interference, among other topics.
In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump accused Comey of lying in testimony to Congress when he was questioned by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.
The president wrote: “Wow, watch Comey lie under oath to Senator G when asked ‘have you ever been an anonymous source … or known someone else to be an anonymous source . . .?’ He said strongly ‘never, no.’ He lied as shown clearly on @foxandfriends.”
Trump in the past has masqueraded as a fake publicist by the name of “John Miller” or “John Barron” to leak flattering or boastful details about himself to tabloid reporters.