Trump plays down prospect of special counsel interviewing him about Russia

Donald Trump has apparently reversed a prospect to meet the special counsel investigating alleged collusion between his election campaign and Russia, insisting that such an interview “seems unlikely”.

Robert Mueller’s team of investigators has reportedly expressed interest in speaking with the US president in person, potentially in the next few weeks, though no date has been set.

But on Wednesday, asked if he is open to meeting Mueller and whether he would set strict conditions, Trump told reporters at the White House: “We’ll see what happens. Certainly, I’ll see what happens. But when they have no collusion, and nobody’s found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview.”

The comments implied a U-turn from last June, when the president said he would be “100%” willing to testify under oath about his interactions with James Comey, whom he fired as director of the FBI. He said of Mueller then: “I would be glad to tell him exactly what I told you.”

At Wednesday’s joint press conference with the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, Trump again protested his innocence prospect with a defence that included the unexpected argument that his defeated election rival, Hillary Clinton, would have played into Russia’s hands by favouring windmills.

He repeated an inaccurate claim that “all” Democrats agree there was no collusion. “And when you talk about interviews, Hillary Clinton had an interview where she wasn’t sworn in, she wasn’t given the oath, they didn’t take notes, they didn’t record and it was done on the Fourth of July weekend. That’s perhaps ridiculous. A lot of people looked upon that as being a very serious breach and it really was.

“But again, I’ll speak to attorneys. I can only say this: there was absolutely no collusion. Everybody knows it, every committee.”

The president described the Russian investigation as a “phoney cloud” that has hurt the government and as a “Democrat hoax” brought up as an excuse for losing an election the party should have won because they have “such a tremendous advantage in the electoral college”. In fact Clinton’s win by nearly three million in the popular vote did not translate to the electoral college.

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