White House vents frustration with ‘absurd’ Mueller probe
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders vented frustration with the special counsel probe on Tuesday, but said that firing Robert Mueller would not be “the most productive step forward.”
Sanders was pressed by reporters to explain President Trump’s weekend tweets, in which he lashed out at the special counsel probe as a “witch hunt” and accused Mueller of stocking his team with Democrats.
The White House press secretary said Trump’s reaction is natural and warranted, because Trump has done nothing wrong. Sanders blasted back at GOP lawmakers, like Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who have suggested that the president’s attacks against Mueller make him appear as if he has something to hide.
“To pretend like going through this absurd process over a year would not bring frustration seems a little ridiculous,” Sanders said.
“I don’t think any individual, including members of Congress, would like it if they had been accused of taking their seat in Congress by doing something nefarious when they hadn’t, particularly if it went on for more than a year into their time in office,” she said.
“My guess is they would be more than anxious to push back and certainly would defend themselves as the president has clearly done that in this situation and has since day one,” Sanders added.
Despite Trump’s Twitter outbursts, the White House insists that it has no plans to fire Mueller. The White House’s position has been that it will cooperate with Mueller in hopes he brings the conclusion to a speedy conclusion that clears the president of wrongdoing.
“We don’t feel like [firing Mueller] is the most productive step forward,” Sanders said. “We would like to see this come to a conclusion.”
Trump’s in-house legal team has expressed optimism that the probe would wrap up soon, but media reports indicate that Mueller has expanded the investigation to include Trump’s business empire, financial transactions for Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and meetings between Trump supporters overseas that took place after the election.
The president added to his outside legal team on Monday, bringing on white-collar attorney Joe diGenova, a former U.S. attorney who has accused the FBI and Department of Justice of anti-Trump bias.
That comes as the White House and special counsel are negotiating the parameters of a potential interview between Trump and Mueller.
Trump has said he’s eager to testify under oath before the special counsel but Sanders would not elaborate on whether the White House is still supportive of that meeting on Tuesday.
“We’ve been fully transparent throughout this process,” Sanders said. “We’ve been fully cooperative. We’re going to continue to be cooperative with the office of special counsel. Beyond that, I can’t go any further.”
The White House said it is frustrated by questions over why Trump appears obsessed with the Mueller probe, saying it is natural to become frustrated when you are accused of wrongdoing but have done nothing wrong.
“Clearly we have not been shy about the fact that there’s frustration of this process,” Sanders said. “We would like it to end quickly and soon. The president has contended since day one … that there was absolutely no collusion between his campaign and any outside force or country.”
“I don’t understand why it’s hard for anyone to process,” she continued. “If you had been attacked mercilessly and continuously day in, day out, every second while you’re trying to work hard to do good things for this country and literally every day you wake up to an onslaught of people saying you’re there because of reasons that are completely false, that’s frustrating. Certainly I think it’s fair for him to be frustrated.”
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