In one of his signature early morning tweetstorms, President Trump raged on Sunday about the political slant of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team and accused former FBI Director James Comey of lying under oath.
The tweets followed an Axios report published late Saturday night claiming that former FBI Director Andrew McCabe - who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday and was stripped of his pension benefits - had met with Mueller, who asked him about Trump's firing of Comey nearly a year earlier, and also turned over "contemporaneous" memos that he'd taken detailing his conversations with the president.
Trump claimed that Comey lied during public Senate testimony last Spring, when he said he'd never been an anonymous source for the news media - then admitted that he had "authorized" a friend to leak one of his memos to the New York Times, which Comey said he did in hopes of sparking a special counsel investigation.
In this particular case, Trump may be referencing what se discussed last night, namely that McCabe may himself have jeopardized Comey, a point underscored by constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley on CNN, who suggested that McCabe's statement following his firing "immediately" raised a flag, which may lead to serious consequences for his former boss. McCabe's statement reads in part:
The OIG investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter.
Turley notes "There was one line in the case statement last night that I immediately flagged. Because he said that he had authority to do this and he conferred with the director - the director at the time was James Comey."
"Now, the problem there is that James Comey said under oath that he never leaked information and never approved a leak," said Turley. "So, if the Inspector General believes this was a leak to the media, it raises serious questions about Comey’s previous testimony and could get him into serious trouble."
This contradicted Comey's statement under oath that "he never leaked information, and never approved a leak." Turley continued. "So if the Inspector General believes this was a leak to the media, it raises serious questions about Comey's previous testimony that could get him into serious trouble."
And here's Trump this morning:
Wow, watch Comey lie under oath to Senator G when asked “have you ever been an anonymous source...or known someone else to be an anonymous source...?” He said strongly “never, no.” He lied as shown clearly on @foxandfriends.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018
Trump then shifted to McCabe, saying he "never took notes when he was with me. I don't believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?"
Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018
But in his most controversial tweet of the day, Trump turned his attention the Mueller probe, launching his most direct attack to date on the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian election meddling being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller - the latest sign that a showdown may be brewing over the probe -when he asked why does Mueller have "13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added...does anyone think this is fair?"
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added...does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018
Late last night, Trump tweeted that the Mueller probe "was based on fraudulent activities" and insisted that it should never have been authorized.
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018
Meanwhile, as Bloomberg notes, the White House on Saturday did nothing to clear up the confusion about Trump’s stance toward Mueller’s probe.
In a statement, Trump lead attorney John Dowd said in a Saturday morning to the Daily Beast that "I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier."
Dowd quickly clarified that he was speaking for himself, not for the president. Even so, Trump cheered the firing of McCabe, calling the FBI corrupt, and claiming the House Intelligence Committee found “there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.” The full committee released no such finding, although Republicans on the panel said they found no evidence of collusion.
In a statement published by McCabe - who was offered a security position by Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan, which should allow him to finish his tenure and collect his pension - the former deputy FBI director said that his dismissal was a deliberate effort to slander him and part of an "ongoing war" against the FBI and Mueller's investigation, according to the Washington Post.
One thing is certain: this is just the beginning of Trump's angry tirade about McCabe's firing, whose fate is now closely tied to the of Comey, even as special counsel Mueller watches every outburst by Trump as he builds his obstruction case against the president.
“How many hundreds of thousands of dollars was given to wife’s campaign by Crooked H friend, Terry M, who was also under investigation?” Trump said in an earlier tweet. Twitter. “How many lies? How many leaks? Comey knew it all, and much more!”