- Trump in a phone call to confidante Bill O’Reilly and in public remarks Thursday again voiced his claim that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is angry at him over a country club fee dispute.
- "Mueller wanted $15,000 back and Trump said no," O’Reilly remarked in a radio interview on Wednesday — an account Mueller has disputed.
- The president has renewed his attacks on Mueller after the former special counsel in his first public remarks in two years led to renewed calls for the president’s impeachment.
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President Donald Trump renewed attacks on Robert Mueller this week, claiming once again that the former special counsel’s investigation was marred by conflicts of interest, even claiming that the special counsel was motivated by a longstanding financial dispute over a fee he paid at one of Trump’s country clubs.
In his first public remarks since being appointed special counsel in 2017 Mueller said on Tuesday that if his investigation had found the president did not break the law, it would have stated so — and he was barred from indicting the president because of justice department regulations.
The remarks were seized on by Democrats calling for the president’s impeachment.
According to New York Times, Trump reacted by spending the rest of the day venting his fury at Mueller’s remarks to aides, and in late night phone calls to friends — including former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
According to O’Reilly, a long-time confidante, the president claimed that the former special counsel is fueled by anger about a dispute over fees Mueller paid at a country club owned by Trump.
"President Trump called me last night around 11 o’clock," O’Reilly said in a call Thursday morning to the "Bernie and Sid in the Morning" radio show, claiming that Trump made the call to discuss a book O’Reilly is writing.
"He wouldn’t give him his deposit back for a country club membership that Trump owned and Mueller was moving," O’Reilly said. "Mueller wanted $15,000 back and Trump said no."
In remarks to reporters Thursday, Trump listed a "business dispute" among Mueller’s motivations in a seeming reference to the dispute — and described Mueller on Twitter as "totally conflicted."
It’s not the first time that Trump has voiced the accusation. Back in June 2018 the New York Times reported that it was one of the reasons Trump listed to aides in June 2018 when he attempted to fire Mueller — only backing away from the move when White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.
The president’s claims were addressed and rejected in Mueller’s report, which was presented to Congress in April in a redacted form. Mueller himself in his report presents a very different account of the golf club affair.
Describing his communications with Trump’s National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, Mueller wrote that in October 2011 he informed that club that he was cancelling his membership subscription because he lived in Washington so was unable to make full use of the facility.
He said he requested a partial refund of the membership fee paid in 1994, and was told he had been placed on a list of those seeking a refund, after which he had no more contact with the club.
Even Trump’s own chief strategist, Steve Bannon, in interviews with the special counsel’s investigators described Trump’s conflicts of interest accusations as "ridiculous and petty," remarking that "none of them was real or could come close to justifying precluding Mueller from serving as Special Counsel."
O’Reilly also claimed on Thursday that Trump in his phone call had launched into another old conflict of interest attack, claiming to him that Mueller was angry that Trump denied him the FBI director role after Trump sacked James Comey in May 2017.
On Thursday, the president tweeted, saying: "Robert Mueller came to the Oval Office (along with other potential candidates) seeking to be named the Director of the FBI. He had already been in that position for 12 years, I told him NO. The next day he was named Special Counsel – A total Conflict of Interest. NICE!"
Bannon in his testimony to Mueller’s investigators said that Mueller was invited to a meeting at the White House in May 2017 to discuss the FBI.
Bannon told investigators the White House considered "beseeching" Mueller to be the FBI director again after the controversial sacking of Comey, and "he did not come in looking for the job."
- Trump for the first time referred to ‘Russia helping me to get elected’ — then denied it almost straightaway
- Sean Hannity called Robert Mueller ‘full of crap’ and said the former FBI boss ‘doesn’t know the law’
- Mueller and Barr released a bizarre statement claiming ‘there is no conflict’ between their views on obstruction, despite loads of evidence to the contrary