Trump blames Mueller probe for tensions with Russia
President Trump on Wednesday vowed he will continue to “fight back” against special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, blaming it for Washington’s deteriorating relationship with Moscow.
In a barrage of early morning tweets, Trump lashed out by name at Mueller and his supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, even as he denied the escalating investigation is fueling chaos at the White House.
“Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama,” Trump wrote.
He accused Mueller — a Republican — of being the “most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!”
Trump was referring to a claim that Rosenstein signed off on an extension of a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign associate as part of the Russia probe.
The tweet blaming the Mueller probe for tensions with Moscow came less than an hour after Trump warned Russia to “get ready” because the U.S. would launch “nice and new and ‘smart’” missiles at its ally Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack.
During his flurry of tweets Wednesday morning, the president also pushed back on media reports describing a West Wing becoming unglued by the controversy over the Russia probe, saying that the environment is “very calm and calculated with a big focus” on policy issues.
The tweets are the latest sign that Trump’s anger with the Russia probe has boiled over, which has alarmed lawmakers who worry he could fire Mueller, Rosenstein or Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserted on Tuesday that the president has the power to fire the special counsel, a stance that is at odds with many legal experts.
Trump’s anger was triggered by an FBI raid this week on his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, which came in part due to a referral from Mueller’s team. The president on Wednesday called the move “unthinkable.”
“I (we) are doing things that nobody thought possible, despite the never ending and corrupt Russia Investigation, which takes tremendous time and focus,” Trump tweeted. “No Collusion or Obstruction (other than I fight back).”
Trump has railed against the FBI and Russia probe for close to 48 hours since news of the Cohen raid broke Monday afternoon.
Cohen has been at Trump’s side for years and is a key figure in several legal controversies surrounding the president.
The attorney paid $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election in order to keep her from going public with allegations that she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Cohen also faces scrutiny for his role in a failed effort by the Trump Organization to build a tower in Moscow, an episode that is reportedly of interest to the special counsel.
Trump’s response to the raid has largely overshadowed a series of pressing issues for the administration.
In addition to the Syria attack, the president is engaged in a trade dispute with China and is dealing with growing staff turnover in part due to newly installed national security adviser John Bolton’s desire to reshape his team.
Trump’s top homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, left the White House Tuesday after being pushed out by Bolton, according to a source familiar with the situation
The White House announced Tuesday that Trump will no longer travel to South America for an international summit, citing the Syria strike.
Updated at 10:10 a.m.
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