WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump insists he “won’t be involved” in any attempt to interfere with the investigation into Russian election meddling — unless he changes his mind.
Trump also is renewing his attacks on James Comey, the FBI director he fired last year, accusing him of lying about Trump’s trip to Moscow in 2013 that has received fresh scrutiny. Early Friday, Trump accused Comey in a tweet of leaking classified information.
“He’s either very sick or very dumb,” Trump tweeted.
On Thursday, the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee approved a measure that would safeguard special counsel Robert Mueller from being fired. The move came shortly after Trump, in a television interview, blasted the Justice Department, which oversees the special counsel’s investigation.
“I am very disappointed in my Justice Department. But because of the fact that it’s going on, and I think you’ll understand this, I have decided that I won’t be involved,” the president said in a telephone interview with “Fox & Friends.”
But then he added: “I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”
The Mueller legislation approved by the Senate panel may be largely symbolic, since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won’t bring it up for a full Senate vote. But it shows there are limits to Republican support for Trump when it comes to the president’s attacks on the special counsel’s probe.
Four Republicans joined Democrats in a 14-7 committee vote to approve the measure.
Nearly all GOP senators say Trump shouldn’t fire Mueller. And Republicans who support the legislation say it’s necessary to guard against presidential interference by giving Congress more oversight power.
“While my constitutional concerns remain, I believe this bill should be considered by the full Senate,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the committee, adding to pressure on McConnell.
Trump has increased his criticism of the Russia investigation since the FBI’s raids on the office and hotel room being used by Michael Cohen, a Trump personal attorney who is under federal criminal investigation in New York for unspecified business dealings.
Trump again called the investigation “a witch hunt” and insisted there was “no collusion” with Russia. Much of his vitriol in his TV remarks was directed at Comey.