U.S. President Donald Trump says he is willing to answer any questions under oath as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“I am looking forward to it,” Trump told reporters Wednesday at the White House before leaving for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible. I would do it under oath, absolutely.”
Trump reiterated that there was “no collusion” with Russia to help him win the election and suggested he is being investigated for obstruction of justice as part of the Russia probe because he was “fighting back” against the probe.
“Oh, well, Did he fight back?” Trump said, “You fight back, Oh, it’s obstruction.”
Trump’s interview with Mueller’s investigators has not been scheduled, but the president suggested it could occur within the next two or three weeks. Terms of the interview have also not been set, with Trump saying it would be “subject to my lawyers.”
Months ago, Trump said he would “100 percent” agree to meet with Mueller’s investigators, but more recently questioned why any interview would be needed since there was “no collusion.”
Mueller is looking to interview Trump about his firing last year of former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, when he was heading the Russia investigation, before Mueller, over Trump’s objections, was appointed to take over the probe.
In addition, Mueller is looking at Trump’s dismissal of onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn and Comey’s claim that Trump then urged him to drop his probe of Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador to Washington in the weeks before Trump assumed power a year ago.
U.S. law makes it a crime to obstruct justice or hinder an “official proceeding.”
Legal experts say that while a sitting president can’t be prosecuted for obstruction of justice or any other crime, the charge of obstruction can be used by Congress to impeach a president, if it decides to pursue such a case.
Former President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, in part for obstruction of justice, while one of three articles of impeachment brought against Richard Nixon in 1974 alleged obstruction of justice. Clinton was acquitted in a Senate trial, while Nixon resigned as the corruption case mounted against him.
Mueller’s investigation into the Russian election interference has reached into Trump’s Cabinet, with the interview last week of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while he was a U.S. senator and a Trump campaign advocate, and later played a role in Comey’s firing. Comey was interviewed weeks ago.
Trump has contended the Mueller investigation and congressional probes into the Russian election meddling are a hoax perpetrated by Democrats looking to explain his upset victory over his opponent, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Trump and Republican colleagues in Congress increasingly have accused the FBI of bias in pursuing the Trump investigation and their dropping without charges of a 2016 probe into Clinton’s handling of classified material on a private email server while she was the country’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that shortly after Trump ousted Comey, the president had a get-to-know-you meeting with Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s acting director.
The Post said Trump “vented his anger” at McCabe, a longtime FBI official, for the fact that his wife had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations for her unsuccessful 2015 state Senate race in Virginia from a political action committee controlled by a close friend of Clinton, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Trump has complained in Twitter comments about McCabe and his wife’s Democratic Party fundraising.