Despite multiple reports that Donald Trump is “stonewalling” or trying to avoid talking directly to the special counsel in the Russia probe, the president’s deputy press secretary says Trump still has plans to testify — under oath — with Robert Mueller.
On Sunday, White House spokesperson, Raj Shah, sat down with Jonathan Karl, ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent, for a segment of “This Week.” Shah has emerged recently as a staunch defender of Donald Trump’s policies. He often appears on television networks while Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders appears daily before an information-hungry press pool over ongoing White House controversies.
Shah and Karl begin their exchange by talking about President Trump’s agreement to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Recently, multiple sources reported that the isolated nation sent a message to Trump by way of a South Korean delegation requesting that the two leaders meet.
U.S. officials on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s decision to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying the move was not just for show — nor was it a gift to Pyongyang as some have claimed, according to Reuters.
“President Trump isn’t doing this for the theater. He’s going to solve a problem,” said Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo during a Sunday interview with Fox News.
The Republican president came under fire for allegedly blindsiding aides and the GOP with the speed at which he agreed to enter into dialogue with Pyongyang.
The conversation with Shah pivoted to the Russia investigation of the Trump campaign and administration over possible collusion with the Kremlin in the 2016 Elections. Legal pundits are split over whether Trump should meet with Mueller, given the president’s propensity for going off script.
Shah said Trump indicated to him at least two times in the past that he has no plans to dodge federal prosecutors and is willing to respond to queries under oath. He added that the president’s personal lawyers are actively planning the best way for Trump and Mueller to speak. The president has long referred to the Russia Investigation as a “witch hunt.” According to the Hill, Trump’s attorneys are trying to press Mueller to set a date to end the probe in exchange for his testimony under oath.
The first year of Trump’s presidency has been marred by the Russia probe. The president is also currently facing allegations of an affair with the former porn star, Stormy Daniels, in 2006 and legal questions surrounding rumored “hush money” paid to her days before the election.
The latter controversy has raised red flags about possible infractions of campaign finance laws. Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, recently admitted to paying Stormy (birth name, Stephanie Clifford) $130,000 using a home equity loan tied to his personal property.
As CNBC wrote, an ethics watchdog filed papers with the Department of Justice and the Office of Government Ethics and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (or CREW). It charged that Cohen’s transaction constituted a violation because the president failed to disclose the payment as a liability and likely knew about it.
Trump said in the past that if federal prosecutors probed his personal finances, it would tantamount to a “red line,” which raised questions about the president firing Mueller. Karl pressed Shah, asking him if the president has plans to terminate the special counsel should he include the payment to Stormy Daniels in the Russia investigation.
“I’m not here to declare any red lines. There’s no intention whatsoever to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel, right now. We’ve been fully cooperative. We respect their process. We’re hoping it will come to a conclusion in the near future.”
Daniels’ attorney sued Trump for allegedly trying to silence her. At issue is an alleged nondisclosure (or NDA) Daniels supposedly signed in exchange for her silence. She claims the document was not signed by the president, and therefore, is not binding. Trump’s camp claims otherwise.
According to the deputy press secretary, he is “not aware” that President Trump approved of the payment or had prior knowledge before Cohen disbursed the funds. He also denied knowing whether or not the president paid Cohen back for the payment to Stormy Daniels.