Attorney General Jeff Sessions wasn't the only person on President Trump's mind Wednesday. During a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times that lasted 50 minutes, Trump brought up several people he isn't happy with, including fired FBI Director James Comey, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, plus one person he is fine with: Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Mueller: Trump said that before Rosenstein appointed Mueller special counsel, overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the election, Mueller was "up here and he wanted the job" of replacing Comey. When he was named special counsel, "I said, 'What the hell is this all about?'" Trump said. "Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven't said, but I will at some point." The Times asked Trump if Mueller's probe would cross a "red line" if it expands to look at his family's finances beyond Russia, and Trump responded: "I would say yes. I think that's a violation. Look, this is about Russia." He's really not worried, though. "I don't think we're under investigation," Trump said. "I'm not under investigation. For what? I didn't do anything wrong."
On Putin: Trump told the Times that during his second, previously undisclosed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 summit, they exchanged "pleasantries" for about 15 minutes and spoke "about adoptions." He called it "interesting" that adoptions were brought up, considering his son, Donald Trump Jr., claims that during a June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked attorney, that's the topic they discussed, despite emails showing the meeting was set up so Trump Jr. could receive damaging information on his father's opponent, Hillary Clinton.
On Comey: Trump said the dossier on his ties to Russia that Comey shared with him two weeks before the inauguration is "made-up junk" and "such a phony deal." The dossier, complied by a former British spy, is full of salacious details, and Trump said he believes Comey "shared it so that I would think he had it out there." When asked by the Times if he thought it was leverage, Trump responded, "Yeah, I think so. In retrospect."
On Rosenstein: When he found out after Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation that his deputy, Rosenstein, was going to step up to handle it, he was irritated to learn Rosenstein was from Baltimore, Trump told the Times. "There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any," he said.
Read the entire, eye-popping interview at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia