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Trump calls his administration ‘smooth-running machine’ — and blames Mueller for ‘playing into Russia’s hands’ with probe

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U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he was worried that any statements under oath he provides to Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be used to bring perjury charges against him as part of the probe into Russia’s electoral interference.

In an interview with Reuters, Trump echoed the concerns of his top lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, who has warned that any sit-down with Mueller could be a “perjury trap.”

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The president expressed fears that investigators could compare his statements with that of others who have testified in the probe, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and that any discrepancies could be used against him.

“So if I say something and he (Comey) says something, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.”

Despite his concerns, Trump did not comment on whether he would ultimately agree to an interview with Mueller, who is, among other things, investigating whether Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russians during the 2016 election and whether Trump has obstructed justice in the probe.

Trump also declined to say whether he might strip Mueller of his security clearance, as he did last week to former CIA Director John Brennan, who had repeatedly criticized Trump’s handling of foreign policy and national security issues.

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“I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” he said.

Russia has denied interfering in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump has denied any collusion took place.

As he has done almost daily on Twitter, Trump railed against the probe in the Oval Office interview with Reuters, repeatedly calling it a disgrace and arguing that Mueller and other members of his team were biased.

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Trump asserted that he retained the power to intervene in the probe, but that he had chosen not to do so for the moment.

His administration, Trump said, was “a smooth-running machine, except in that world. And I’ve decided to stay out. Now I don’t have to stay out.

“I can go in, and I could do whatever — I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out,” he said. “I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out.”

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Trump has been critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the probe, leaving oversight to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

In the interview, Trump blamed the investigation for hampering his efforts to strengthen the country’s relationship with Russia and for sowing discord among the American public.

He again neglected to blame Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, a conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community.

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The probe, he said, “played right into the Russians – if it was Russia – they played right into the Russians’ hands.”

Reporting by James Oliphant, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Editing by Peter Cooney

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump Twitter freaks out about coming recession and tries to pin the blame on the Democrats

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President Donald Trump betrayed his mortal fear of a recession in another early morning Twitter rant about the economy.

The president insisted the economy was fine, and again tried to blame Democrats and the media if a recession hits before the 2020 election.

"The Economy is strong and good, whereas the rest of the world is not doing so well," the president tweeted. "Despite this the Fake News Media, together with their Partner, the Democrat Party, are working overtime to convince people that we are in, or will soon be going into, a Recession."

He suggested that his political enemies were willing to sacrifice their wealth to defeat him next year.

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‘American Carnage’: How Mike Pence uses his brand of right-wing evangelical Christianity to play Trump

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In February of 2018, Donald Trump's former political guru Steve Bannon told Bloomberg News that in the 2016 election, "The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.”

Bannon was proven correct in his strategy of how Trump's racist, authoritarian pseudo-populist movement could win power in the United States (and various other places around the world). Nearly three years into Trump's tenure the American news media is still struggling with how to cover a president and an administration that have no use for democratic norms, the Constitution, the rule of law, and the truth or reality itself.

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Whistleblower hands House Dems evidence of ‘inappropriate’ interference on Trump’s tax returns

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A federal employee turned over “credible” evidence to House Democrats of possible “inappropriate efforts to influence” the IRS presidential audit process, House lawyers said in a court filing Tuesday.

In July, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., sued Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin after the latter rejected the panel’s request for six years of Trump’s tax returns. On Tuesday, House lawyers cited the new evidence in a motion asking a federal judge to rule without trial that the Treasury Department is required by law to turn over the president’s tax returns.

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