NEW YORK — In his testimony today before the House Judiciary Committee, Robert Mueller denied that he was interviewed by President Trump for the position of FBI director during a meeting with the president just one day before he was appointed special counsel.
Mueller’s testimony not only contradicts repeated assertions by Trump on the matter, it also conflicts with statements inside the recently published book by Andrew McCabe, the former acting FBI director, who cited former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as saying that Mueller indeed interviewed for the FBI director position with Trump.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) quizzed Mueller about the May 2017 Oval Office meeting with Trump.
“When you talked to President Trump the day before you were appointed as special counsel, you were talking to him about FBI director position, again, did he mention James Comey?” asked Gohmert.
“Not as a candidate,” Mueller replied.
Later in the hearing, Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) asked: “Did you interview for the FBI director job one day before you were appointed as special counsel?”
“My understanding, I was not applying for the job. I was asked to give my input on what it would take to do the job,” Mueller replied.
Trump has repeatedly asserted that he interviewed Mueller for the FBI director position, citing the meeting as a potential conflict of interest for the special counsel.
Today, Trump tweeted that Mueller was lying in his denials about being interviewed and that Vice President Mike Pence was a witness to the job “interview” with Mueller:
….interview, including the Vice President of the United States!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2019
This is not simply a case of Mueller contradicting Trump.
News media coverage of the matter has largely ignored that McCabe cited Rosenstein as affirming that Mueller interviewed for the FBI director position. McCabe also recounted how Mueller temporarily left his cell phone behind after the Oval Office meeting in question and that the phone “later had to be retrieved.”
Breitbart News previously reported that in his anti-Trump book, titled, “The Threat: How the F.B.I. Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” McCabe, citing Rosenstein, relates the story of Mueller leaving his phone behind after the “interview” with Trump for the position of FBI director.
In this same meeting Rod talked about interviews with candidates for director. Then he flipped back to talking about possible candidates for the special counsel job. It was hard to track whether he was talking about candidates for one job or for the other. One minute, he said Mueller had been asked to interview for the position of FBI director; Mueller had gone in for an interview with Trump, and left his phone there, and then the phone had to be retrieved.
McCabe went on to write that Rosenstein also said that John Kelley, former White House chief of staff and former Secretary of Homeland Security, also interviewed with Trump to possibly replace Comey:
Then he said John Kelly was another candidate for FBI director. I said I didn’t understand what qualified Kelly as a prospect. Kelly had no law-enforcement or legal background of any kind. And why would he leave his cabinet-level position as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to become director of the FBI? Rod said, No, he wouldn’t leave DHS. He would just run both. I said, You’ve got to be kidding. Those are two massive jobs. Each one is a huge challenge for any human being. For one person to do both would be impossible.
In June 2017, CNN first cited a White House official as saying that Trump had interviewed Mueller to potentially replace Comey one day before Mueller was named special counsel. CNN reported it was “unlikely” that Mueller informed Trump of his soon-to-be-announced special counsel gig. According to multiple reports, the White House was only given short notice that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was going to name Mueller as special counsel.
Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a Trump confidante, previously stated that Mueller and Trump “had a private conversation” during their meeting. “He had a private conversation with the President on his views about all sorts of matters potentially about the investigation,” Ruddy said. “And the next day he’s now maybe using some of that information in his investigation.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.