White House dodges on Mueller questions
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday repeatedly deflected questions about the leak of special counsel Robert Mueller’s questions for President Trump.
Reporters asked Sanders multiple times about the questions, which were published by The New York Times, but each time Sanders instructed them to direct their inquiries to Trump’s personal lawyers.
“As with all questions of this nature, I’d refer you to the president’s outside personal attorneys, Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani,” Sanders said when asked what Trump thinks about the line of questioning.
Sanders declined to engage when a reporter asked whether the White House was behind the leak of the questions. When pressed that the question was about aides, and not Trump himself, Sanders said she believed it was “actually specific to the president.”
Some have suggested Trump associates leaked the questions in order to gauge public reaction. The Times said it obtained them from a “person outside Mr. Trump’s legal team.”
The answers stymied reporters who were eager to dig into the questions, which shed light on the direction of Mueller’s months-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller reportedly wants to ask Trump about his intent in firing his national security adviser and FBI director to examine whether he obstructed justice.
His question about former campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s outreach to Moscow during the election suggested he is still probing whether the campaign colluded with Russia’s election-interference efforts.
Trump falsely claimed there were “no questions on Collusion” and said it was “disgraceful” the questioned were leaked.
“So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media. No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!” the president tweeted Tuesday morning.
Sanders would not answer questions about Trump’s tweet.
The spokesperson also refused to answer questions about longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in a lawsuit filed by adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Cohen has said he made a $130,000 payment to Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement, while also denying any sexual encounter took place.
“I can’t speak on behalf of Michael Cohen. I’d refer you to him,” she said.
Sanders also didn’t answer questions about comedian Michelle Wolf’s biting jokes about her at last weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
But that was for a different reason: No reporter asked about them.