US President Donald Trump has launched a fierce personal attack on former special counsel Robert Mueller, describing him as “totally conflicted”.
He said the man who led the inquiry into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election had “wanted to be the FBI director, and I said ‘no'”.
The president also claimed the two had had a “business dispute”.
On Wednesday, Mr Mueller reiterated that his inquiry did not exonerate Mr Trump of obstruction of justice.
Prominent US Democrats called for the impeachment of the Republican president following Mr Mueller’s comments.
At the White House on Thursday morning, Mr Trump said impeachment was a “dirty, filthy disgusting word”.
He said Mr Mueller was a “true Never Trumper”, referring to his Republican critics during the 2016 White House race, and that his investigation was “a giant presidential harassment”.
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In a tweet earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump wrote that the special counsel “would have brought charges” if investigators had had “anything”, but that “there were no charges to bring”.
In Mr Mueller’s press conference on Wednesday – the first and only public comments he has made in two-year investigation – the former FBI director said that charging a sitting president with a crime “is not an option” due to a long-standing US Department of Justice policy.
As he prepared to board a helicopter to Colorado, Mr Trump continued the attack, saying “Mueller should have never been chosen”.
“He wanted the FBI job and didn’t get it and then was picked as special counsel,” he said.
He also referred to the special counsel’s team of investigators as “some of the worst human beings on Earth”.
In a tweet earlier in the day, Mr Trump seemed to say for the first time that Moscow had played a role in helping him to get elected, while disavowing his own involvement.
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax… And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected,” he wrote.
But on the White House lawn, he said: “No, Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all.”