President Donald Trump on Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment by labeling the probe the “greatest witch hunt in American history,” declaring his innocence and recycling his claim that Democrats are the party guilty of wrongdoing.
“Congratulations America, we are now into the second year of the greatest Witch Hunt in American History...and there is still No Collusion and No Obstruction,” the president wrote online. “The only Collusion was that done by Democrats who were unable to win an Election despite the spending of far more money!”
Trump’s characterization of the Mueller probe, charged with investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, is one he has made loudly and often. His administration has called often for the investigation to be brought to an end and argued that it has proven fruitless thus far.
But despite claims from the White House that Mueller’s team has yet to find anything, the special counsel’s team handed out multiple indictments through its first year, including to Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, as well as to 13 Russian nationals accused of involvement in Kremlin efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
Mueller’s team also secured a guilty plea late last year from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is now cooperating with the investigation, as are Gates and Papadopoulos. The team also secured the first sentence of a person connected to the Mueller probe with former Skadden Arps lawyer Alex van der Zwaan, who pleaded guilty in February to lying to FBI agents about his contacts Gates and suspected Russian intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Mueller’s appointment a year ago was spurred by Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, a decision he said he made with the bureau’s Russia investigation weighing on his mind. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused from all matters related to the 2016 election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to oversee the Justice Department’s Russia probe.
Beyond labeling it a “witch hunt,” Trump has complained often that Mueller’s investigation is also the product of deep-state opposition to him that exists within the Justice Department, especially with Comey and former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whom Trump also fired. The Russia probe, Trump has said, amounts to little more than an effort by embarrassed Democrats to save face in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s surprising loss in the 2016 election.