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Trump Attacks Mueller One Week After Replacing Attorney General

Terrence Dopp
Trump Attacks Mueller One Week After Replacing Attorney General

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump accused Robert Mueller of “threatening” witnesses to cooperate in the probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, one day after the Senate’s Republican leader blocked a bid to protect the special counsel’s work.

“The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts,” Trump said on Twitter Thursday. “They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want.”

Trump provided no examples.

Trump then launched a blistering attack on the probe, accusing Mueller by name of being “highly conflicted” and saying he worked for former President Barack Obama “for 8 years.” Mueller was appointed as FBI director by former President George W. Bush and Obama later extended his original 10-year-term by two years until 2013.

In a two-paragraph legal filing on Wednesday, Mueller offered a rare glimpse into the status of the probe and noted that former Trump presidential campaign aide Rick Gates is cooperating with prosecutors in several ongoing investigations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday blocked two senators from bringing up bipartisan legislation to protect Mueller’s investigation from any interference by Trump. Despite the heated rhetoric, Trump isn’t likely to seek Mueller’s ouster or meddle in the probe, the lawmaker said in making the move.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democrat Chris Coons had said they would push the measure after Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and tossed out more than a century of precedent to name Sessions chief of staff Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general on Nov. 7. Whitaker, a persistent critic of Mueller’s work, now has the power to slow or shut down an investigation that has resulted in criminal charges against Russian hackers and social-media trolls, as well as several people who worked for Trump or his campaign.

Flake, who is retiring at the end of this year, said he will refuse to advance any judicial nominees in the Judiciary Committee or confirm any judges on the Senate floor until the Mueller bill is brought to the floor for a vote. McConnell has repeatedly said that confirming more federal judges is his top priority.

(Adds McConnell reason for blocking legislation in sixth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Washington at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Derek Wallbank at dwallbank@bloomberg.net, ;Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman

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