Trump: ‘I’ve got nothing to hide’
US President Donald Trump says he has "nothing to hide" from the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election, and denies that his top lawyer had turned on him by co-operating with the probe.
Mr Trump, in a series of tweets, denounced The New York Times for a weekend story saying White House Counsel Don McGahn has co-operated extensively with the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
The Times said Mr McGahn had shared detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether Mr Trump obstructed justice.
"I allowed him and all others to testify - I didn't have to," Mr Trump said in a tweet on Sunday.
Mr Trump said the newspaper made it seem like Mr McGahn had turned on the president - as White House counsel John Dean had in the Watergate investigation of former president Richard Nixon - "when in fact it is just the opposite".
Citing a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter, The Times said on Saturday that Mr McGahn had shared information, some of which the investigators would not have known about.
On Saturday evening, Mr McGahn's lawyer confirmed the White House counsel had co- operated with Mr Mueller's team. "Mr McGahn answered the special counsel team's questions fulsomely and honestly," William Burck said, explaining the president did not ask McGahn to refrain from discussing any matters.
Mr Trump's outside legal counsel, Rudy Giuliani, said Mr McGahn's co-operation would help bolster Mr Trump's claims that he did nothing wrong.
"The president encouraged him to testify, is happy that he did, is quite secure that there is nothing in the testimony that will hurt the president," Mr Giuliani said on Meet the Press in the US.
Mr Dean, who has criticised Mr Trump in recent years, voiced support for Mr McGahn. "McGahn is doing right!" he wrote on Twitter.
According to The New York Times, Mr McGahn in at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totalled 30 hours over the past nine months, described Mr Trump's fury towards the Russia investigation and the ways in which the president urged Mr McGahn to respond to it.
Mr Trump denies his campaign colluded with Russia and has repeatedly attacked the probe as illegitimate.
On Sunday, he compared Mr Mueller with 1950s-era US Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose anti-Communist crusade eventually led to his censure by the Senate. "Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in a period with Mr Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!" Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
The newspaper reported Mr McGahn's motivation to speak with the special counsel as an unusual move that was in response to a decision by Mr Trump's first team of lawyers to co-operate fully. But it said another motivation was McGahn's fear he could be placed in legal jeopardy because of decisions made in the White House that could be construed as obstruction of justice.
The newspaper said Mr McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr Trump's attempts to fire the special counsel, which investigators might not have discovered without him.
Mr McGahn cautioned to investigators he never saw Mr Trump go beyond his legal authorities.