President Donald Trump on Thursday said that former special counsel Robert Mueller made “such a fool out of himself” last week when he made a public statement regarding his investigation into Russian election interference and whether Trump obstructed the probe.
Trump’s comments came during an interview with Fox News taped ahead of a ceremony in France commemorating the 75th anniversary of the storied D-Day invasion. The network released excerpts ahead of a planned broadcast on Thursday night.
During his public appearance, Mueller said that his office could neither clear nor accuse Trump of obstructing his investigation into Russian election interference, citing a long-standing Justice Department opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
During the Fox interview, Trump seized on a joint statement issued later that day by the special counsel’s office and the Justice Department clarifying that Mueller’s account did not conflict with Attorney General William Barr’s previous characterization of Mueller’s thinking.
“Let me tell you, he made such a fool out of himself … because what people don’t report is the letter he had to do to straighten out his testimony because his testimony was wrong,” Trump alleged to host Laura Ingraham, according to the excerpt released by Fox News.
During his public appearance, Mueller cited the Justice Department policy and said that if his office “had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” He also said that the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” a reference to impeachment.
Barr previously testified to the Senate that Mueller had told him that he did not conclude that Trump had committed a crime and that he would have been charged if not for the Justice Department policy regarding indicting sitting presidents.
While some congressional Democrats suggested that Mueller contradicted Barr, the joint statement from the special counsel and Justice Department said there was “no conflict” between their statements.
Trump also personally attacked Mueller the day after his public appearance, leveling discredited accusations that the former special counsel had conflicts of interest that made him a biased investigator.
Trump, in tweets and in comments to reporters, accused Mueller of being a “true never-Trumper,” who was conflicted due to a past “business dispute” between them. He also alleged that Mueller asked him for a job.
But Trump’s conflict claims have been disputed by people familiar with his interactions with Mueller. Further, former White House aides told the special counsel’s office that they informed the president they were baseless when he started making them after then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein selected Mueller to lead the investigation in May 2017.
Washington Post writers Colby Itkowitz and Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.