President Donald Trump lobbed fresh insults at special counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday, a day after Mueller’s office filed a complaint alleging former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort broke his plea deal with repeated lies.
Trump called Mueller the “exact opposite” of a saint who is doing “TREMENDOUS” damage to the country’s criminal justice system by probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Manafort reached a deal with Mueller’s team in September in which he agreed to plead guilty to a range of crimes and cooperate with the investigation in exchange for lighter punishment. He was found guilty on eight counts, including tax fraud, money laundering and lying to the government. Mueller now says Manafort has been lying to prosecutors, so the deal is off.
Trump, in a series of tweets, raged against Mueller’s “now $30,000,000 Witch Hunt,” and “ruined lives,” but didn’t specifically mention Manafort. (An Associated Press report in May estimated that the investigation had run up a $17 million bill.)
“Let these terrible people go back to the Clinton Foundation and ‘Justice’ Department,” he fumed.
Mueller’s investigation has so far resulted in five guilty pleas, two prison sentences and one conviction, as well as the indictment of 12 Russian nationals on charges of hacking the Democratic National Committee server during the 2016 election.
It’s unclear whether Trump himself has cooperated with the investigation. He recently said he had prepared written answers to some of Mueller’s questions, but he has repeatedly refused to address the inquiry into whether he tried to obstruct justice.
Trump has previously discussed pardoning Manafort with his attorneys, but the plea deal requiring cooperation with Mueller’s team likely put a potential pardon in jeopardy. Trump has previously stated his distaste for “flipping” and said it “almost ought to be” illegal.
But Trump’s reference on Tuesday to “how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie” suggests his support for Manafort is back on.