WASHINGTON — President Trump said Tuesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is heading up “an illegal investigation” rife with conflicts of interest, including for Mueller himself.
Trump made the remarks during a wide-ranging exclusive Oval Office interview with The Daily Caller.
Asked whether Mueller’s expansive investigation would interfere in the 2018 election, the president dismissed the whole inquiry as “illegal.”
“I view it as an illegal investigation. It should have never been started. It should have never been allowed to start. You know, I’m not a target of this investigation, just in case you don’t realize.”
That’s also what former FBI Director James Comey told Trump multiple times in early 2017, before the president fired him, prompting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller as special counsel. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Says Bob Woodward Has ‘A Lot Of Credibility Problems’)
The president ticked off the “many reasons” he considers the investigation illegal.
“Number one, there was no crime,” Trump said. “Number two, everybody was conflicted, including Mueller.”
“There were tremendous conflicts here.”
Among the conflicts Trump has cited, the president had interviewed Mueller for the FBI director role just days before the latter man’s appointment as special counsel.
“Sitting right in that chair,” Trump gestured from the Resolute Desk. “I liked him, but I didn’t give him the job.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Says He Doesn’t See Himself Shutting Down Government Before Midterms)
“I had a business dispute with Mueller before that. I had a real business dispute,” Trump said. The president’s claims of a business dispute reportedly revolve around decade-old golf fees.
“And he’s Comey’s best friend,” Trump insisted. “I could give you a hundred pictures of him and Comey hugging and kissing each other.”
“And then somebody from his law firm came out and said I can’t believe they picked Mueller. He hates the President. He hates the president,” Trump added.
“So that’s four things. That’s four.”
The president then moved on to what he views as clear conflicts of interest among Mueller’s staff. “You know, I call them the 17 angry Democrats,” Trump explained.
“It’s incredible when you look at [Andrew] Weismann and all these people. Some of the people worked for the Hillary Clinton Foundation. It’s an incredible thing.”
Jeannie Rhee, a lawyer on Mueller’s team, reportedly represented Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation in two separate 2015 cases.
“Honestly, people are very angry about it,” the president continued. “People that love our country are very angry about it.”
“So I consider it to be an illegal investigation. It should have never been allowed to have happened.”