Donald Trump has furiously berated two journalists for asking about the possibility of him being indicted after leaving office, labelling them as purveyors of ”fake news”.
The president was speaking to a group of reporters following Robert Mueller‘s closely watched testimony before two congressional committees on Wednesday.
During the session the former special counsel confirmed that Mr Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice once he left office.
“Could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?” Ken Buck, a Republican congressman, asked Mr Mueller.
“Yes,” the former special counsel said in reply.
“You believe that you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?”
“Yes,” Mr Mueller said again.
But the president insisted that Mr Mueller had corrected his answer, in an angry tirade at political journalists later in the day.
“When you saw Robert Mueller’s statement, the earlier statement and then he did a recap, he did a correction later on in the afternoon,” he said when Hallie Jackson, a journalist at NBC News, asked him about the possibility of an indictment.
“And you know what that correction was and you still asked the question, you know why? Because you’re fake news and you’re one of the worst.
“And let me just tell you – the fact that you even asked that question, you’re fake news because you know what, he totally corrected himself in the afternoon and you know that just as well as anybody.”
The president appeared to be confusing Mr Mueller’s response to Ken Buck with his separate answer to Ted Lieu.
During the first hearing Mr Lieu asked if the special counsel had not indicted Mr Trump because of an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo, which argues that you cannot indict a sitting president.
The OLC is an agency which operates within the US justice department.
Mr Lieu asked: “I’d like to ask you the reason, again, that you did not indict Donald Trump is because of OLC opinion stating that you cannot indict a sitting president, correct?”
“That is correct,” Robert Mueller said.
But the 74-year-old clarified his remarks later in the day.
“(W)hat I want to clarify is we did not make any determination with regard of culpability in any way. We did not start that process down the road,” he said at the beginning of his appearance before the House Intelligence Committee.
Mr Mueller did not correct his answer to Mr Buck, but the president repeatedly insisted that he had in later exchanges with reporters.
“He didn’t say that,” Mr Trump said to a second journalist who asked him about the indictment remarks.
“Again, you’re fake news and you’re right at the top of the list also.
“Let me just tell you…read his correction. Read his correction! If you read his correction you’ll find out. That’s why people don’t deal with you, because you’re not an honest reporter.”
Yamiche Alcindor, PBS White House correspondent, said the president had also lashed out at her.
“I quoted Robert Mueller directly to President Trump and he replied that I was being “untruthful” in my question. He was totally wrong,” she said on Twitter.
Despite Mr Mueller’s testimony there is little sign Democrats will start impeachment proceedings against the president, although Representative Lori Trahan joined 90 others calling for an impeachment inquiry.
Nancy Pelosi, the house speaker, opposes moving forward on impeachment for now. She said Democrats wanted to assemble the strongest case possible, focusing her remarks on Trump’s personal finances and his business connections.
“One of those connections could be to the Russians and that’s what we want to find out,” she said.
Additional reporting by agencies