By Ian Swanson - 06-23-17 07:25 AM EDT
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) June 23, 2017
President Trump in a new interview with Fox from the White House questions special counsel Robert Mueller's objectivity, saying he is "very, very good friends" with fired FBI Director James Comey.
Trump also argues that Mueller has hired Hillary Clinton supporters and people who worked for his 2016 White House opponent to work on his investigation, a situation he describes as "ridiculous."
The president does not say that Mueller should recuse himself, in response to a direct question for "Fox and Friends" host Ainsley Earhardt.
"Well he's very, very good friends with Comey. Which is very bothersome," Trump says, with first lady Melania Trump at his side. "We're going to have to see. But there has no obstruction, there has been no collusion. There has been leaking by Comey. And virtually everyone agrees on that."
Trump then fires at Mueller for his hiring.
"The people who have ben hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters," he says. "Some of them worked for Hillary Clinton. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous if you want to know the truth from that standpoint.
Trump concludes, however, by stating that Mueller is "an honorable man, and hopefully he'll come up with an honorable solution."
Mueller was appointed to lead the investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election, including possible links to Trump's campaign, after the president fired Comey over his handling of the investigation.
Comey has testified that he believes Trump had sought to get him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michale Flynn. Comey's testimony has raised the possibility of Mueller bringing an obstruction of justice case against the White House.
It wasn't immediately clear if anyone working for Mueller actually worked for Clinton.
The Hill previously reported that Jeannie Rhee, a member of Mueller's team, donated $5,400 to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign PAC Hillary for America.
Another person on Mueller's team, Andrew Weissmann, donated money to former President Obama's campaign in 2008 while working at a law firm. Weissmann is the senior lawyer on the special counsel team, Bloomberg reported.
James Quarles, who served as an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, has donated to over a dozen Democratic PACs since the late 1980s. He was also identified by the Washington Post as a member of Mueller's team.
Trump also discussed his tweet Thursday acknowledging that he did not tape conversations with Comey, who he fired earlier this year.
Trump for more than a month suggested tapes of his conversations in the White House with Comey might have existed.
On Friday, he said they didn't, and that his story on Comey had never changed.
"Well I didn't tape him," he said. "You never know what's happening when you see that the Obama administration and perhaps longer than that was doing all this unmasking and surveillance and you read all about it and I've been reading about it for the last couple of months about the seriousness of the and the horrible situation of surveillance all over the place.
"But I didn't tape, and I don't have any tapes, and I didn't tape, but when he found out that there may be tapes out there, whether its governmental tapes or anything else and who knows, I think his story may have changed," Trump said.
Fox reporter Ainsley Earnhardt suggested that keeping the tapes was "a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings."
"Well, uh, it wasn't very stupid, I can tell you that," Trump replied. "He did admit that what I said was right, and if you look further back, before he heard about that, i think maybe he wasn't admitting that. So I think maybe you'll need to do a little investigative reporting to determine that, but I don't think it will be that hard."
"You'll have to take a look at that. Because then he'll have to tell what actually took place at the events. And my story never changed. My story was the straight story. My story never changed."