Donald Trump has personally accused former Special Counsel Robert Mueller of committing a crime, claiming he deleted sensitive information during his Russia investigation—the president did not produce any evidence whatsoever to back up the assertion.
In a Friday morning interview on the Fox Business Network, Trump wildly lurched from topic to topic in a rambling, contradictory, and confusing style. The president appeared to become more agitated as the segment continued, until he was practically screaming down the phone line by its end.
Anchor Maria Bartiromo barely managed to ask a question of the president, mostly responding “wow” to Trump’s various attacks. Trump’s targets included but weren’t limited to: Mueller, Joe Biden, China, Europe, Google, Twitter, and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. He also issued a threat to Japan, where he’s due to visit this week.
As usual, Trump was at his angriest when discussing Mueller. He accused the former special counsel of trying to erase evidence of text messages between two FBI employees—attorney Lisa Page and agent Peter Strzok. Trump has long been fixated with a text between the two in which they talked of an “insurance policy” if he won in 2016.
“The two lovers, the two pathetic lovers, those two lovebirds,” Trump said of the pair. “Robert Mueller, they worked for him... they had texts back and forth... Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated the emails, he terminated all of the stuff between Strzok and Page... He terminated them. They’re gone. That’s illegal. That’s a crime.”
Trump appeared to be regurgitating claims from Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Tuesday night, when Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow called in and asked about the what happened to the content on Strzok’s and Page’s phones.
Trump repeated the theory Wednesday—on the morning after it was announced that Mueller had agreed to testify before before Congress on July 17. Although he has previously vowed not to discuss anything that’s not already in his report, his mere presence is likely to increase calls on House Democrats to press ahead with impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Elsewhere in the interview, Trump appeared to confirm reports from earlier this week that he’s been talking with his aides about withdrawing from the Postwar Japan Defense Pact. He angrily complained about what he believes is a lopsided agreement between the countries, which ensures the U.S. will defend Japan if it comes under attack in the future.
“Almost all countries in this world take tremendous advantage of the United States,” said Trump. “If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III, we will go in and we will protect them and we will fight with our lives... but if we’re attacked Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television, the attack. So, there’s a little difference.”
Then the president turned his fire on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, whom he picked for the job. He complained that Powell “doesn’t do anything for us,” and that interest-rate rises are working against the U.S. economy.
“Nobody ever heard of him before and now I made him and he wants to show how tough he is,” said Trump. “I have the right to demote him, I have the right to fire him... I never suggested I was going to do that but I do have the right to do it... He has to lower interest rates.”
Last but not least, Trump became incensed about what he perceives to be an attack on his follower count on Twitter, saying that he might have to become a “nice liberal Democrat” to pick up more followers on the network.
“I was picking up 100,000 followers every few days... and I’m much hotter now than I was a number of months ago... then all of a sudden it stopped,” he said. “Twitter is just terrible what they do. They don’t let you get the word out. I’ve had so many people come to me [saying] ‘Sir, I can’t join you on Twitter,’ I see what’s happening, a hundred percent.”
Asked if he would like to see laws made against Twitter’s alleged acts against his follower count, he said: “You may need legislation in order to create competition.” Whether or not Trump can gain cross-party support for a bill to get him more followers remains to be seen.