- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2018

Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg announced Monday that he is refusing to comply with a grand jury subpoena in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, saying President Trump has done nothing wrong but asserting that former campaign aide Carter Page did collude with Moscow in 2016.

In several TV interviews, Mr. Nunberg said he would ignore the grand jury’s order for thousands of emails with former campaign officials Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks, both of whom went on to work in top posts at the White House, and other Trump allies. He said he won’t appear before the grand jury as required on Friday.

“Screw that,” Mr. Nunberg told CNN. “Why do I have to go? Why? For what? I’m not going back in.”

But in a Monday night interview, he seemed to take that back, telling The Associated Press that he is likely “going to end up cooperating with them.”

He told AP that he thinks the subpoena is unfair and overly broad, demanding thousands of emails with a series of former campaign aides, and wants Mr. Mueller to narrow his demands.

Sounding defiant and rattled over the length of the day, Mr. Nunberg offered a rare public glimpse into the work of the special counsel and the grand jury investigating the Trump campaign and suspected links to Russia in the presidential campaign. He said he has already sat down with investigators for about 5½ hours.

During his appearance with Mr. Mueller’s team last month, Mr. Nunberg said, investigators asked him whether he had heard anyone speaking Russian in Mr. Trump’s office and asked about the meeting of Donald Trump Jr., campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower in June 2016 — although the campaign had fired Mr. Nunberg nearly a year earlier.

He said investigators also asked him why Mr. Trump took favorable positions toward Moscow during the campaign.

The former campaign aide said he would risk arrest rather than turn over the documents under subpoena, including phone logs and emails dating back to November 2015 with officials including Mr. Manafort and Trump confidant Roger Stone.

“I’m the first person to go out here and say I’m not cooperating, because it’s absolutely ridiculous what they want from me,” Mr. Nunberg said in a heated interview on MSNBC.

He said it would take him 50 hours to collect all the information and suggested that he might even rip up the subpoena on live television.

Asked if he was concerned about contempt of court, Mr. Nunberg said, “I think it would be funny if they arrested me.”

Mr. Nunberg said his refusal to comply is not to protect Mr. Trump.

“No, I’m not protecting him, but he didn’t do anything,” he said. “You know what he did? He won the election. The president’s right: It’s a witch hunt.”

In a second CNN appearance, Mr. Nunberg mentioned that he believed Mr. Page had damaging links with Russian operatives.

“So Carter Page was colluding with the Russians, you’re saying?” asked CNN host Jake Tapper.

“Yes, I believe Carter Page was colluding with the Russians,” Mr. Nunberg said.

But he said that doesn’t mean the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow. He said Mr. Page was only a “name on a list” who was inconsequential in the campaign.

Mr. Nunberg said he spoke with Mr. Bannon, a former White House chief strategist, last week for the first time since the campaign.

“We both feel like, I’m telling you, that Trump may have very well done something during the election,” Mr. Nunberg said on MSNBC. “I don’t know what it is. I could be wrong, by the way.”

Mr. Nunberg called CNN to say that the special counsel likely had suspicions about Mr. Trump but asserted that any collusion claim was a joke. He said his questioning by Mr. Mueller’s team in February left him with the impression that there was something substantial to the investigation.

“I suspect that they suspect something about him. I can’t explain it unless you were in there,” he said. “The way they asked about his business dealings. It just made me suspect that they suspect something about him.”

He later appeared in the CNN studio for an interview with Erin Burnett, and at the end, the host implied that he was drunk on air. “Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol on your breath,” she said, sitting just a few feet from Mr. Nunberg.

Mr. Nunberg denied this over several skeptical-sounding follow-up queries from the host about whether he was on anything at all. “Besides my meds?” he asked, specifying that he uses anti-depressants. “Is that OK?”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed Mr. Nunberg’s comments as ill-informed.

“I definitely think he doesn’t know for sure because he’s incorrect,” Mrs. Sanders said. “As we’ve said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. He hasn’t worked at the White House, so I can’t speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.”

The Trump campaign fired Mr. Nunberg in August 2015 after some racist Facebook posts by him were revealed. He had served with the campaign since sometime in 2014, before Mr. Trump’s official announcement, and was fired on an earlier occasion but was brought back for a time. He said he had no fondness for Mr. Trump and that he clashed with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

In 2015, the campaign described Mr. Nunberg as a low-level consultant.

A lawyer who graduated from Touro Law Center in Long Island, New York, Mr. Nunberg considers Mr. Stone as his mentor. He said the Mueller team is trying to get him to turn on Mr. Stone to implicate him in connection with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his group’s publication of stolen Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign.

“They want me to come into a grand jury for them to insinuate that Roger Stone was colluding with Julian Assange,” Mr. Nunberg said. “Roger was my mentor. Roger is like family to me. I’m not going to do it.”

Mr. Stone issued a statement later Monday.

“I was briefly part of the Trump campaign, and have been the president’s friend and adviser for decades, and would expect that Mueller’s team would at some point ask for any documents or emails sent or written by me,” he said. “But let me reiterate, I have no knowledge or involvement in Russian collusion, or any other inappropriate act.”

Among the claims made by Mr. Nunberg on Monday is that Mr. Mueller thinks “Trump is the ‘Manchurian Candidate.’ “

He asserted that Mr. Trump was aware of the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 where senior campaign aides met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

He said the special counsel is also looking into Mr. Trump’s beauty pageant in Moscow in 2013.

Witnesses who refuse to appear before a grand jury can be held in contempt of court and jailed until they agree to answer, or until the term of the grand jury expires, whichever comes first.

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