The former Trump campaign aide who became a television spectacle Monday in a series of bizarre news interviews -- vowing to defy a grand jury subpoena and daring Special Counsel Robert Mueller to “arrest me” -- is now toning down his dramatic rhetoric.
"I'm going to end up cooperating with them," the aide, Sam Nunberg, told the Associated Press.
In an unusual and risky move, Nunberg hit the interview circuit Monday to lash out at the special counsel after receiving a subpoena to appear before a grand jury for the Russia investigation.
Mueller’s team requested records from him of conversations he had with outgoing White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Trump attorney Michael Cohen, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and adviser Roger Stone.
But a defiant Nunberg went public with his anger regarding that request, saying: “Let him arrest me.”
“Mr. Mueller should understand I am not going in on Friday,” Nunberg told the Washington Post.
During one interview on CNN, host Erin Burnett told Nunberg she “smelled alcohol” on his breath. Nunberg denied he had been drinking.
The political consultant has had a long and colorful history with Trump. He was one of Trump’s earliest political advisers, helping him connect with conservative audiences ahead of his 2016 presidential run.
He’s long been associated with Stone, the infamous political dirty trickster who has also had a tumultuous relationship as an on-again, off-again adviser to Trump.
Nunberg said Monday he believes the only reason he's being asked to testify before the grand jury is to provide information that would be used against Stone, which he says he won't do.
“I’m not spending 80 hours going over my emails with Roger Stone and Steve Bannon and producing them,” Nunberg said. “Donald Trump won this election on his own. He campaigned his ass off. And there is nobody who hates him more than me.”
In other interviews, Nunberg said he thought Mueller may already have incriminating evidence on Trump directly, although he would not say what that evidence might be.
"I think it would be funny if they arrested me."
"I think he may have done something during the election," Nunberg told MSNBC of the president. "But I don't know that for sure."
He later told CNN that Mueller "thinks Trump is the Manchurian candidate." A reference drawn from a Cold War novel and film, a "Manchurian candidate" is an American brainwashed or otherwise compromised to work on behalf of an adversarial government.
Shortly after Nunberg lobbed the first allegation, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders rebuffed him during her Monday press briefing.
"I definitely think he doesn't know that for sure because he's incorrect. As we've said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign," Sanders said. "He hasn't worked at the White House, so I certainly can't speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has."
During his afternoon tirades, Nunberg detailed his interview with Mueller's investigators, mocking them for asking such questions as if he had heard Russian being spoken in Trump Tower.
"I think it would be funny if they arrested me," Nunberg said on MSNBC.
He later added on CNN: "I'm not going to the grand jury. I'm not going to spend 30 hours going over my emails. I'm not doing it."
Nunberg said he'd already blown a 3 p.m. Monday deadline to turn over the requested communications. He said he'd traded numerous emails a day with Stone and Bannon, and said spending 80 hours digging through his inbox to find them all was unreasonable.
"I'm going to end up cooperating with them."
Nunberg is the first witness in the ongoing federal Russia investigation to openly promise to defy a subpoena.
A source close to the Trump campaign told Fox News on Monday that Nunberg was fired twice by Trump “for good reason” and was known to be erratic, referring to his media appearances Monday.
Nunberg was first fired by Trump in 2014 after an unflattering piece about Trump ran in BuzzFeed as he geared up for a presidential run. Nunberg, a communications aide, helped to arrange the interview and Trump blamed him for the bad press.
Nunberg was re-hired for the campaign, but was fired again by Trump in 2015, after past racially-charged Facebook posts surfaced.
Later during the campaign, Trump sued Nunberg for $10 million, accusing him of breaching a confidentiality agreement. The lawsuit was later settled.
Nunberg was featured in the recent Michael Wolff book “Fire and Fury” and recently sat for a voluntary interview with Mueller.
Fox News' Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.