President Donald Trump said on Thursday the hands-off approach he has taken to the U.S. Justice Department given the probe into possible collusion between his campaign and Russia could change, comments that could re-ignite concerns he might move to impede the investigation.
“Because of the fact that they have this witch hunt going on with people in the Justice Department that shouldn’t be there, they have a witch hunt against the president of the United States going on, I’ve taken the position – and I don’t have to take this position and maybe I’ll change – that I will not be involved with the Justice Department,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel.
In the interview, Trump railed at former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey for what he said were illegal leaks of classified information, and suggested the Justice Department should be pursuing charges against him. Comey has said he never leaked any classified information.
“I am very disappointed in my Justice Department,” Trump said. “I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace.”
Trump has frequently criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from matters relating to the Russia probe, and has blasted both Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees it.
Many Democrats have expressed concern that Trump may try to remove either Rosenstein or Mueller.
Trump has denied there was any collusion between his campaign and Russia – and he did so again on Thursday – and Russia has denied interfering in the U.S. election, as U.S. intelligence agencies have charged.
Reporting by Tim Ahmann and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci