WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump unleashed a series of two tweets against former special counsel Robert Mueller and Democrats early Monday ahead of Mueller’s anticipated testimony before Congress on Wednesday.
“Highly conflicted Robert Mueller should not be given another bite at the apple. In the end it will be bad for him and the phony Democrats in Congress who have done nothing but waste time on this ridiculous Witch Hunt. Result of the Mueller Report, NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION!...” Trump tweeted.
“....But the questions should be asked, why were all of Clinton’s people given immunity, and why were the text messages of Peter S and his lover, Lisa Page, deleted and destroyed right after they left Mueller, and after we requested them(this is Illegal)?” he tweeted.
Trump’s Monday criticism against Mueller extended from two other tweets earlier this month, in which he also used the “bites at the apple” reference.
“Now the Democrats have asked to see 12 more people who have already spent hours with Robert Mueller, and spent a fortune on lawyers in so doing. How many bites at the apple do they get before working on Border Loopholes and Asylum. They also want to interview the highly......” Trump began a tweet on July 11.
“....conflicted and compromised Mueller again. He said he was “done” after his last 9 minute speech, and that he had nothing more to say outside of the No Collusion, No Obstruction, Report. Enough already, go back to work! I won, unanimously, the big Emoluments case yesterday!'“ Trump finished in a second tweet.
In May, Trump tweeted that “Bob Mueller should not testify.”
“After spending more than $35,000,000 over a two year period, interviewing 500 people, using 18 Trump Hating Angry Democrats & 49 FBI Agents - all culminating in a more than 400 page Report showing NO COLLUSION - why would the Democrats in Congress now need Robert Mueller.......” he tweeted.
“....to testify. Are they looking for a redo because they hated seeing the strong NO COLLUSION conclusion? There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the Report), and NO OBSTRUCTION. Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” Trump tweeted.
The president told reporters on Friday in front of the White House that he doesn’t plan to watch the Mueller testimony.
“At some point they have to stop playing games,” Trump said. “They’re just playing games. You know, I won’t be watching Mueller.”
The House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee will question Mueller in separate hearings on the special counsel’s 448-page report Wednesday.
While the report did not find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to swing the election, it said Trump could not be cleared of trying to obstruct the investigation. But Mueller believed Trump couldn't be indicted in part because of a Justice Department opinion against prosecuting a sitting president.
House Republicans are pledging tough questioning of Mueller, but Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the American public is growing weary of the Russia investigation three months after the release of the special counsel's report and that "any thought of impeachment is waning."
He said Republicans will be focused on making clear that the report represents a "final episode" in the Russia probe, which he described as flawed.
But New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, argued that Mueller's report lays out "very substantial evidence" that Trump is guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors," the constitutional standard for impeachment.
"This is a president who has violated the law 6 ways from Sunday," Nadler said. "We have to present — or let Mueller present — those facts to the American people ... because the administration must be held accountable and no president can be above the law."
Mueller has said he doesn't intend to speak beyond the findings of the report in congressional hearings.
Still, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee plan to focus on a narrow set of episodes laid out in the report to direct Americans' attention to what they see as the most egregious examples of Trump's conduct, which point to obstruction of justice.
The examples include Trump's directions to then-White House counsel Donald McGahn to have Mueller removed and, later, orders from Trump to McGahn to deny that happened.
Democrats also will focus questioning on a series of meetings Trump had with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in which the Republican president directed Lewandowski to persuade then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit Mueller's investigation.
Collins, meanwhile, said Republicans will focus in part on the origins of the Russia investigation, which Trump has long derided as a political "witch hunt" as well as evidence they see of potential bias in the FBI's handling of the probe.
"There's going to be a lot of questions for what he did say, what he didn't say, and how this thing started," he said, referring to Mueller. "This is the time that the Democrats have got to show on their end how much time they have been wasting of our committee and how we have not been getting things done because they simply don't like this president, who was elected by the people in 2016, and they're just trying to derail him for 2020.“
Mueller's appearance comes more than two years since the start of the Russia investigation, an extraordinary moment in Trump's presidency when, after Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey, his Justice Department appointed Mueller to take over the inquiry into election interference and the potential role that Trump and his winning 2016 campaign may have played.
While Mueller's testimony was once envisioned as a crystallizing, Watergate-style moment to uncover truths, public attention has drifted in the months since the report was released.
"We want Bob Mueller to bring it to life, to talk about what's in that report," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. "It's a pretty damning set of facts that involve a presidential campaign in a close race welcoming help from a hostile foreign power, not reporting it but eagerly embracing it, building it into their campaign strategy, lying about it to cover up, then obstructing an investigation into foreign interference again to try to cover up.“
Intelligence committee aides have said they believe the public has received a slanted view of what Mueller found on the question of criminal conspiracy because of Trump's repeated claims of "no collusion," and because the details of Russia's interference in the election — and the outreach to the Trump campaign — haven't gotten enough attention.
"Who better to bring them to life than the man who did the investigation himself?" Schiff asked.
Nadler said he's not worried that Republicans might seek to attack the credibility of the Russia investigation and said he hopes to take cues from the public after the hearing about "where we go from here.“
"We hope it won't end up being a dud," he said.
Nadler spoke on "Fox News Sunday," Schiff appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" and Collins was on Fox News Channel's "Sunday Morning Futures."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.