President Trump on Friday called the investigation into allegations of Russia collusion and claims he obstructed justice “ridiculous” while saying special counsel Robert Mueller’s friendship with fired FBI Director James Comey “is very bothersome,” during a wide-ranging interview on “Fox & Friends” that also touched on his stalled legislative agenda and the health care debate.
“Robert Mueller is an honorable man and hopefully he’ll come up with an honorable conclusion,” Trump said, though he noted that Mueller and Comey were “very, very good friends” and also criticized the makeup of Mueller’s growing team of attorneys involved in the investigation.
“I can say that the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters, some of them worked for Hillary Clinton,” Trump said. “I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous if you want to know the truth.”
A day earlier, Trump revealed on Twitter that he had not taped conversations between himself and Comey – addressing a question he helped raise in the first place – but on Friday he said his strategy in suggesting possible recordings was all about keeping Comey honest.
“When he found out that there may be tapes out there…I think his story may have changed,” Trump said. “I mean you’ll have to take a look at that because then he has to tell what actually happened at the events.”
He added: “[The suggestion] wasn’t very stupid. He did admit that what I said was right and, if you look further back before he heard about that, maybe he wasn’t admitting that.”
Comey had been reluctant to say in public what he later revealed he told Trump three times in private – that the president was not the subject of any FBI investigation. But after Trump’s “tapes” tweet, Comey leaked to The New York Times the contents of highly-detailed memos regarding his one-on-one meetings with Trump, a development that eventually spurred congressional testimony and ultimately led Comey to admit he assured Trump multiple times he wasn’t the subject of a federal probe.
Trump claimed a victory in getting Comey to confess the personal reassurances he’d given him – and also in instigating the testimony during which Comey stunningly revealed he engineered the post-firing leak to The Times.
“There has been no obstruction, there has been no collusion – there has been leaking, by Comey,” Trump said on Friday.
Of course, Comey’s revelations also prompted the eventual appointment of Mueller to oversee the investigation, which reportedly began focusing on if Trump obstructed the Russia investigation by firing Comey on May 9.
Turning to the contentious battle to pass a new health care legislation, Trump said the four Republican senators -- Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ron Johnson -- who on Thursday said they weren't yet ready to vote "yes" for the GOP's Senate bill were "four good guys and four friends of mine." He expressed optimism the quartet would eventually drop their opposition.
"I think we're going to get there, we have four very good people..and we'll see if we can take care of them," Trump said.
The president also stressed how quickly the GOP has been able to send a health care overhaul package to the Senate, even if the process has been messy at times.
"I've done in five months what other people haven't done in years," Trump said.
And though it appeared the bill would eventually have to pass with little or no Democratic support, Trump expressed hope Democrats would eventually decide to work with Republicans on issues ranging from infrastructure funding to tax reform.
“They are, right now, obstructionists,” Trump said. “All they wanna do is obstruct. I think they’d do much better as a party if they tried to get along with us."
He added: “I think the American public is tired of obstructionists.
“Boy, would the people love to see the two parties getting together and coming up with the perfect health care plan."