The Slatest

Trump Slams Mueller Ahead of Testimony, Accuses Him of “Illegal Deletion”

President Donald Trump answers questions on the comments of special counsel Robert Mueller while departing the White House on May 30, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump answers questions on the comments of special counsel Robert Mueller while departing the White House on May 30, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is getting an early start in bashing former special counsel Robert Mueller as he came up with a deal to testify in the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on July 24. The testimony was delayed for one week but as part of the deal, Mueller agreed to extend the time lawmakers will have to question him. Trump is getting his attack lines ready and is relying on conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch to back up his criticism.

Trump went back to a favorite talking point Saturday, accusing Mueller and his team of carrying out “illegal deletion” of text messages that were exchanged between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. “This is one of the most horrible abuses of all. Those texts between gaga lovers would have told the whole story. Illegal deletion by Mueller. They gave us ‘the insurance policy,’” Trump wrote Saturday morning on Twitter. This is not the first time Trump has made the claim. “Robert Mueller terminated their text messages together,” Trump said during an interview with Fox Business last month. “He terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal. That’s a crime.” Needless to say, the president has not presented any evidence to back up his explosive claim.

Trump also retweeted several messages from Judicial Watch, including a quote from the group’s president, Tom Fitton, who claims the Mueller probe was “part of an effort to remove the president from office improperly. ” Trump also retweeted a message from Judicial Watch that calls on the president to order the Department of Justice to reopen an investigation into Hillary Clinton.

The delay in the hearing means Mueller will answer questions from lawmakers one day before they are scheduled to leave for summer recess. That means there will be little opportunity for those seeking impeachment to use the hearings as a jumping off point to build momentum toward their goal.