Washington, D.C.

Calling inquiry unfair, Trump asks: What about Clinton’s Russia ties?

President dismissive about new reports
President Donald Trump leaves after visiting Rep. Steve Scalise at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington on June 14.
President Donald Trump leaves after visiting Rep. Steve Scalise at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington on June 14.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump complained Thursday about the unfairness of the Russia investigation, wondering on Twitter why Hillary Clinton’s connections to Russia are not being similarly scrutinized.

Twitter users quickly responded, with many of them tweeting a version of the same thing: Because you’re the president.

Moments later, Trump continued to rant about his former rival for the presidency, saying — wrongly — that Clinton had “destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG.”

Those accusations were apparently references to stories that emerged during the campaign. An aide to Clinton (not Clinton herself) told the FBI that he had disposed of Clinton’s old cellphones by “breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.”

An employee of the company that ran Clinton’s private email server used a program called “BleachBit” to delete files; the FBI concluded that Clinton was unaware of the deletions.

It was Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton’s husband, who had a conversation with Loretta Lynch, who was serving as attorney general, on Lynch’s plane, leading her to recuse herself in the email case involving Clinton.

The complaints about Clinton came after a series of morning tweets in which Trump mocked federal investigators, saying they made up a “phony collusion with the Russians story” amid new reports that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is looking into whether Trump tried to obstruct justice in the case.

“They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice,” Trump tweeted just before 7 a.m.

In a later tweet, the president once again called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt” and called the people leading it “very bad,” apparently a reference to Mueller and others at the FBI.

Mueller has requested interviews with three current or former senior intelligence officials, according to a person briefed on the investigation. The move suggests he is examining whether the president sought their help in trying to get James Comey, the former FBI director, to end an investigation into Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser.

The special counsel is also seeking documents from the National Security Agency relating to the intelligence agency’s interactions with the White House on the Russia investigation.

Together, the requests from Mueller indicate new scrutiny on whether the president tried to influence the Russia investigation through conversations he had with Comey, whom he ultimately fired, or with other officials.

That would make Trump a subject of a sprawling inquiry that he has repeatedly said has no merit. During a Rose Garden news conference June 9, the president insisted that Comey was “a leaker” of information and said that Comey’s testimony on Capitol Hill helped clear the president of wrongdoing.

“Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction,” Trump said of Comey’s testimony.

The president’s tweet Thursday morning makes it clear that he remains dismissive of the investigation. Trump reportedly considered firing Mueller as special counsel, but was talked out of it by aides who worried about the consequences of taking such an action.

Christopher Ruddy, a longtime friend of Trump’s, had said publicly that Trump was considering terminating Mueller. Ruddy said the president believed that Mueller had conflicts of interest that should have made him ineligible to lead the investigation.

Ruddy said, in a PBS interview, that Mueller’s previous law firm represents some members of Trump’s family. And he revealed that Trump had interviewed Mueller to replace Comey as FBI director the day before Mueller was selected to serve as special counsel.

The tweet from Trump on Thursday suggests that he still believes Mueller has conflicts of interest that undermine his ability to lead the Russia inquiry.

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