In what may have been Donald Trump’s weirdest interview to date, the President of the United States spoke with the New York Times about a variety of topics, ranging from his meeting with Vladimir Putin to his handshake with French President Macron. The most disturbing remarks, however, came when he discussed Robert Mueller’s investigation into his campaign.
Trump initially ranted about the conflicts of interest that Mueller has, saying that a special counsel should never have been appointed. When the Times asked if it would be a red line if Mueller begins to look into his and his family’s finances, Trump’s reply was more of a threat to Mueller himself.
“I would say yeah, I would say yes.” Trump explained. Without being prompted, the President then began to defend his real estate dealings with Russia.
“By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don’t make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don’t have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don’t. They said I made money from Russia. I don’t. It’s not my thing. I don’t, I don’t do that. Over the years, I’ve looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years.”
The Times next asked the President if he would fire Mueller if he went outside of certain parameters of what his charge is. Trump replied, “I can’t, I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Earlier in the interview the President also questioned his own choice for Attorney General, in Jeff Sessions. Trump’s anger was clear when he described the fact that Sessions took the job and then almost immediately recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia. The President even suggested that he would have hired someone else had he known Sessions would have recused himself, saying:
“Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.”
So not only did the President provide a vague threat to Mueller that he better not step outside the box and begin investigating his or his family’s finances, but he also basically showed that he had lost confidence in his Attorney General. Note that while the President himself can not fire Mueller, his deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein can. Trump would have to somehow convince Rosenstein to do just that if he wished to relieve Mueller of his duties, which seems like a stretch at this point. If Rosenstein was to resign then that’s a whole other story.