WASHINGTON – As the political world braces for news from special counsel Robert Mueller, President Donald Trump all but taunted the prosecutor Friday by saying his investigation is unnecessary.
"This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime," Trump claimed in a series of tweets.
Trump charged there should have been no Mueller investigation — and therefore no Mueller report — "if" there was no crime when Mueller was appointed and "if" it was based on information collected by his political enemies. The Justice Department appointed the special counsel in 2017 after investigators developed strong evidence that Russia had sought to help Trump win the presidency obtained an array of clues that people in his campaign could have participated in that effort.
Mueller's team has convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, and other Trump associates on charges ranging from financial fraud to lying to investigators.
So, if there was knowingly & acknowledged to be “zero” crime when the Special Counsel was appointed, and if the appointment was made based on the Fake Dossier (paid for by Crooked Hillary) and now disgraced Andrew McCabe (he & all stated no crime), then the Special Counsel.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
....should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller Report. This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime. Russian Collusion was nothing more than an excuse by the Democrats for losing an Election that they thought they were going to win.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
.....THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2019
A federal appeals court in Washington and four district court judges have rejected challenges to Mueller’s appointment and his investigation.
Trump’s critique of the Mueller inquiry comes as two of the president’s former top aides – Flynn and deputy campaign manager Rick Gates – acknowledged in court papers this week that they continue to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation.
The president, his attorneys, and others expect Mueller to report something soon on his investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election by hacking the emails of Democratic Party officials and pushing fake news about Trump opponent Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors are also looking into whether Trump sought to obstruct the investigation. Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has testified that Trump implicitly encouraged him to provide false information to congressional investigators.
Trump has denied obstruction or collusion with the Russians, while denouncing the Mueller investigation as a hoax.
In transcripts released this week, two of the FBI officials involved in the early stages of the Russia investigation, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, told lawmakers that they didn’t know at the time Mueller was appointed whether the probe would prove collusion.
Strzok and Page, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages in 2016 and engaged in an extramarital affair, both said that’s not particularly unusual at that point in an investigation. Asked specifically whether the FBI had any evidence that Trump’s associates coordinated with the Russian government, Strzok said the answer was classified and would relate to an ongoing investigation.
“At the early stage of the investigation, there were a variety of things going on, and it was not clear to me what that represented, whether it was the activities of a group of individuals or something larger or more coordinated, or, in fact, nothing at all," Strzok said.
Months earlier, the Justice Department had persuaded a federal surveillance court that it had probable cause to believe “the Russian Government’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election were being coordinated with [Carter] Page and perhaps other individuals associated with” Trump’s campaign.
Page is a former Trump advisor with extensive Russian contacts who came under government surveillance in 2016.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: As Russia report nears, Donald Trump taunts Robert Mueller