Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is “bad for the country,” and the only collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign was by Democrats, President Trump said in an interview published Friday.
“It makes the country look very bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position,” Mr. Trump told The New York Times of the Mueller probe. “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”
The president said a Russia investigation led by House Republicans is getting closer to the heart of the real Russia story — that Moscow was working with Democrats during the 2016 campaign.
“I actually think it’s turning to the Democrats because there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats,” Mr. Trump said. “There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion. Starting with the dossier. But going into so many other elements. And Podesta’s firm.”
That was a reference to John Podesta, who served as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. The dossier, a document containing salacious allegations about Mr. Trump that he has called “fake,” was funded by the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign and created by the liberal the opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
The president said he still believes he will be treated “fairly” by Mr. Mueller, who obtained a guilty plea earlier this month from former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI. Flynn is cooperating with investigators.
Mr. Trump said repeatedly during the interview with The Times that there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election.
He questioned the status of a Justice Department prosecution of Imran Awan, a Pakistani-born former information technology aide to former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who is facing fraud and other charges.
“Whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the DNC?” Mr. Trump said. “With the two servers that they broke up into a million pieces? Whatever happened to him? That was a big story. Whatever happened to the Hillary Clinton deleted 33,000 emails after she got [inaudible]?”
Asked if the Justice Department should reopen the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails, the president replied, “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”
U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu has filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, urging a judge to deny Mr. Awan’s request to lift all restrictions on him as condition of his release.
Mr. Awan currently must abide by an electronically monitored curfew of 12 a.m. to 6 a.m., and cannot travel more than 150 miles from his home. His attorney has asked the court to lift those conditions, including an electronic monitoring bracelet.
Federal prosecutors say Mr. Awan is a flight risk.
“While the government possesses Awan’s Pakistani passport, nothing prevents him from obtaining a new Pakistani passport at the Embassy in D.C. That passport would permit Awan to board a flight and leave the country at any time,” the U.S. attorney’s motion read. “The government asserts that Awan is a flight risk and that his participation in HISP is by far the least restrictive condition that can be imposed on him to ensure his return to Court.”
In other portions of The Times interview, Mr. Trump:
• Professed admiration of former Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for “protecting” former President Barack Obama.
“Holder protected President Obama,” Mr. Trump said. “When you look at the I.R.S. scandal, when you look at the guns for whatever [the so-called “Fast and Furious” scandal], when you look at all of the tremendous, real problems they had, not made-up problems like Russian collusion, these were real problems. When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest, I have great respect for that.”
• Said he wants to negotiate a $1 trillion infrastructure plan with Congress next year to fix the nation’s roads and bridges.
“I actually think we can get as many Democrat votes as we have Republican,” Mr. Trump said. “Republicans want to see infrastructure. I want to do a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, at least. We want to fix our roads, our highways, our bridges, which are in bad shape. So, I want a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. I think it can be bipartisan.”