President Donald Trump said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that “it doesn’t matter” what his former White House counsel Don McGahn told special counsel Robert Mueller, directly challenging the testimony of one of Mueller’s key witnesses.
Trump claimed that McGahn was “confused” when, as part of his testimony on obstruction of justice, the former counsel said he had received two calls by the President to have the acting attorney general remove the special counsel because of perceived conflicts of interest.
“The story on that very simply, No. 1, I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller,” the President said during the interview.
Pressed further on the issue by Stephanopoulos, Trump continued, “I don’t care what [McGahn] says, it doesn’t matter.”
The anchor then asked what reason McGahn would have for lying under oath to which Trump responded that he probably “wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer.”
“Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen — including you, including the media — that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest,” the President argued.
“And has to go?” Stephanopoulos continued immediately afterwards.
“I didn’t say that,” President Trump pointed out.
McGahn is now battling a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify publicly about those conversations with the President. He had previously testified behind closed doors for more than 30 hours and his testimony has been quoted multiple times in the report. The White House has advised him not to comply with the subpoena.
In the interview, Trump also argued that he refused to have an in-person interview with the special counsel’s team because he believed they were only seeking to catch him in a lie. “I looked at what happened to people, and it was very unfair. Very, very unfair. Very unfair,” Trump added after explaining why he would not testify.
Stephanopoulos then pointed to the fact that the written answers provided by Trump did not include responses on obstruction of justice. The President tried to dodge the question, growing frustrated with the anchor.
“George, you’re being a little wise guy, OK — which is, you know, typical for you. Just so you understand. Very simple. It’s very simple. There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means they set — it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s going to come out,” he said.
Mueller did not reach a conclusion on obstruction but detailed almost a dozen instances of possible obstruction.