WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump compared the prosecutions of Robert Mueller III to those in the McCarthy era on Wednesday, continuing his relentless attacks on the special counsel investigating possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign.
In a morning tweet, Trump also claimed that “major players” under investigation have “intimated” that Mueller’s team “is viciously telling witnesses to lie about facts & they will get relief.”
“This is our Joseph McCarthy Era!” Trump said, referring to the period during the 1950s named for Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., in which hundreds of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers.
The tweet marked the third straight day in which Trump has taken to Twitter in an attempt to discredit Mueller, who is also examining whether the president has tried to obstruct the investigation.
In tweets Tuesday, Trump accused Mueller of being a “conflicted prosecutor gone rogue” who is doing “TREMENDOUS damage” to the criminal justice system.
Despite the president’s broadsides, aides have continued to insist that he has no intentions of directing Mueller’s firing or otherwise interfering in the investigation.
In Wednesday’s tweet, Trump did not specify which three “major players” have said Mueller’s team is telling them to lie.
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But in an interview with the New York Post, Trump identified them as his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his former political adviser Roger Stone and Stone associate Jerome Corsi.
On Monday, Corsi said publicly that he had rejected a deal offered by Mueller to plead guilty to one count of perjury because he would have been forced to say untruthfully that he intentionally lied to investigators.
Corsi provided research during the 2016 campaign to Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump. For months, Mueller has been scrutinizing Stone’s activities to determine whether he coordinated with WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange, in the release of hacked Democratic emails during the campaign.
Stone and WikiLeaks have repeatedly denied any such coordination.
Prosecutors working with Mueller also this week accused Manafort of breaching a plea agreement by repeatedly lying to them in the investigation into Russian interference. In a court filing, Manafort denied doing so intentionally.
Trump also told the New York Post that a presidential pardon for Manafort was “not off the table.”
“It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table,” Trump said. “Why would I take it off the table?”
Manafort pleaded guilty Sept. 14, on the eve of jury selection for his trial in Washington, to two charges — conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice — admitting to years of financial crimes related to his undisclosed lobbying work for a pro-Russian political party and politician in Ukraine.
Under the agreement with prosecutors, Manafort faced a maximum prison sentence of 10 years in the District case, not counting a sentence for his August conviction in Virginia for bank and tax fraud.
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As part of his plea agreement, Manafort promised to tell the government about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities.”
Trump also retweeted several tweets Wednesday morning from the Trump Train, a fan account.
One of them showed 10 current and former government officials behind bars and asked: “Now that Russia collusion is a proven lie, when do the trials for treason begin?”
Among those depicted is Rod Rosenstein, the current deputy attorney general who was appointed to his position by Trump and until recently directly oversaw Mueller’s work.
Others depicted include former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired last year.