- President Donald Trump says he is “looking forward” to being interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller under oath amid the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election.
- Multiple news outlets reported Trump’s comments on Wednesday, which come as the president’s lawyers negotiate terms for a sit-down with Mueller.
- Hours later, the White House said in a statement that Trump was “speaking hurriedly,” but that he remains committed to “complete cooperation” with Mueller.
President Donald Trump says he is “looking forward” to being interviewed under oath by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election.
Mueller is also looking into whether the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russians, and whether Trump obstructed justice as the investigation got underway.
Responding to a reporter who asked Trump on Wednesday whether he would talk to Mueller, Trump said “I’m looking forward to it, actually.” CNN shared audio of the exchange, which also captured the president saying “there’s no collusion whatsoever, there’s no obstruction whatsoever, and I’m very much looking forward to it.”
The White House later said that Trump was “speaking hurriedly” before leaving for an economic conference in Davos, Switzerland, CNN correspondent Manu Raju reported, adding that officials said the president remains committed to “complete cooperation” with Mueller.
Trump has previously expressed his willingness to be placed under oath with Mueller, but he walked back his comments earlier this month, saying “we’ll see what happens” when asked whether he would testify.
The special counsel has made significant strides in the Russia probe in recent months, which has led to federal charges against several Trump associates.
The news comes as Trump’s lawyers were reportedly negotiating terms for an interview between Trump and the special counsel, who has focused more closely on Trump amid the investigation.
Among the issues are meetings that Trump had with the former FBI director James Comey last year, during which Trump reportedly asked Comey for his loyalty and lobbied him to drop the FBI’s investigation into his national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump’s alleged efforts on those fronts were unsuccessful. Comey later told congressional lawmakers who are conducting separate Russia investigations that he did not oblige the president’s request for loyalty nor his suggestion that the FBI should “let go” of the Flynn case.
Flynn has since pleaded guilty to a federal charge of lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian ambassador and is cooperating with Mueller.
Pushing back against the Russia probe
As Trump faced increasing scrutiny in the Russia probe, he has repeatedly insisted that he committed no wrongdoing, frequently declaring during public speeches and televised interviews that there was “no collusion.” He has called the investigation a “witch hunt” and has described it as a “cloud” over his presidency.
Allies of the president in Congress and in right-leaning media have echoed those assertions, and more recently, a contingent of Republican lawmakers has sought to elevate what they perceive as political bias against Trump from within the FBI and Justice Department.
The issue of anti-Trump text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page have been touted by Trump allies as evidence that the investigation requires additional oversight.
Strzok was quickly kicked off of Mueller’s team, but just this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions raised alarms over what he said were more than 50,000 text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page, because five months-worth of their messages were not preserved on FBI servers.