In an exclusive interview with Reuters, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was worried that any statements under oath he provides to Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be used to bring perjury charges against him as part of the probe into Russia’s electoral interference.
Trump echoed the concerns of his top lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, who has warned that any sit-down with Mueller could be a “perjury trap.”
The president expressed fears that investigators could compare his statements with that of others who have testified in the probe, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and that any discrepancies could be used against him.
“So if I say something and he (Comey) says something, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.”
Despite his concerns, Trump did not comment on whether he would ultimately agree to an interview with Mueller, who is, among other things, investigating whether Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russians during the 2016 election and whether Trump has obstructed justice in the probe.
Trump also declined to say whether he might strip Mueller of his security clearance, as he did last week to former CIA Director John Brennan, who had repeatedly criticized Trump’s handling of foreign policy and national security issues.
“I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” he said.
Russia has denied interfering in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump has denied any collusion took place.
As he has done almost daily on Twitter, Trump railed against the probe in the Oval Office interview with Reuters, repeatedly calling it a disgrace and arguing that Mueller and other members of his team were biased.