In his first television interview since the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report, President Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night that the investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election was a “coup” and an “attempted overthrow of the United States government.”
Trump, who has largely avoided reporters since last week's release of the special counsel's report revealed at least 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice, called his good friend Hannity to discuss the findings. Or, more accurately, to rant to a pro-Trump audience about how there was “no collusion” and it's time for some payback.
Having begun his broadcast by hyping a new Fox News story about texts previously released last year between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the conservative primetime star said he disagreed with the president when he said at the beginning of his presidency that he wanted to move past investigating 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
“Do you regret saying that?” Hannity asked, expressing an urgent need to get to the bottom of Clinton's private email server, something Hannity described last week as a current threat to national security.
“No, I don't regret saying it,” Trump replied. “When I won, they were all saying lock her up. Lock her up. I said no, no. Let's get on with life. That was different.”
Trump went on to claim that he felt differently now because shortly after the election, “they started coming at us with the insurance policy,” referring to the Russia probe. After railing against the investigation into Clinton's email server and claiming Clinton “destroyed” lives, the president called former FBI officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe “dirty cops.”
“This was a coup,” Trump exclaimed. “This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government... This was an overthrow and it's a disgraceful thing.”
The president also revisited his unsubstantiated March 2017 claim that President Obama had wiretapped him at Trump Tower during the election, boasting to Hannity that his assertion had received attention “like you've never seen” while admitting that it was based only on a “little bit of a hunch.”
Trump said the claim “blew up because they thought maybe I was wise to them.”
During his congressional testimony earlier this month, Attorney General William Barr prompted Democratic backlash when he said he believed “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign during 2016, remarks he would somewhat walk back later.