U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday rejected the suggestion that White House aides ignore his commands when they consider them out of line with the norms of the presidency.
“Nobody disobeys my orders,” Trump told reporters at the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.
He was reacting to accounts last week in the 448-page report by special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election that some Trump aides have ignored his directives over the first two years of his White House tenure because they considered them as unwarranted, damaging to his presidency or wanted to keep themselves out of legal entanglements.
In one widely reported episode, Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn told investigators he refused several Trump overtures to push top Justice Department officials to oust Mueller to end the investigation that has overshadowed his presidency.
“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” Mueller concluded, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
The Mueller report exonerated Trump and his campaign of colluding with Russia to help him, but said it was unable to conclude that “no criminal conduct occurred’ on accusations that Trump obstructed justice to thwart the investigation. However, Attorney General William Barr, a Trump appointee as the country’s top law enforcement official, concluded that with Mueller making no decision on the obstruction question, criminal charges were not warranted.
With Mueller’s portrayal of Trump’s efforts to impede the Muller investigation, some opposition Democrats say they are weighing whether to start impeachment proceedings against him in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, even though there is virtually no chance the Republican-controlled Senate would muster the required two-thirds vote to convict Trump and oust him from office.
Asked whether he was worried about impeachment, Trump replied, “Not even a little bit.”
In an earlier Twitter comment, Trump said, “Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President! Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!”