President Donald Trump said he never would have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general had he known he’d recuse himself from the Russia investigation, and warned that special counsel Robert Mueller would cross a red line if he expanded the investigation to include Trump family finances, in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times on Wednesday.
“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.” President Donald Trump
“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” Trump said. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”
Trump also accused former FBI Director James Comey of lying, and said that when Comey warned him in January that a former British spy had compiled a dossier of sensational allegations against Trump, he interpreted it as a threat. “In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there [as leverage],” Trump said. Trump went on to say Comey’s testimony before Congress was “loaded up with lies,” though he did not specify them.
Despite reports that Mueller may be investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice for firing Comey, Trump said he didn’t believe it. “I don’t think we’re under investigation,” he said. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Trump was also critical of Mueller, alleging conflicts of interest by him and lawyers in his office, and said the Russia investigation should not delve into his family’s finances. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” he said.
Speaking about Russia, Trump dismissed recent reports that he had a second, previously undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the recent G-20 meeting, saying they exchanged “pleasantries” between dinner and dessert, that they talked for about 15 minutes and the subject was Russian adoptions. “Which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don had in that meeting,” Trump said, referring to a June 2016 meeting attended by his son, Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort with a Russian lawyer who had offered them damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
Trump again denied he had knowledge of that meeting, and said he didn’t need any help at the time. “There wasn’t much I could say about Hillary Clinton that was worse than what I was already saying,” he said.