President Trump says if he had known ahead of time that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he would have chosen someone else for the post, calling the move “very unfair.”
In an interview with The New York Times, he also accused James Comey, the FBI director that he fired in May, of trying to save his job by leveraging a dossier of compromising material on Trump.
Trump said too that Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, was running “an office rife with conflicts of interest and [Trump] warned that investigators would cross a red line if they delve into Trump family finances unrelated to Russia.”
The president said as far as he is aware, he does not believe he is personally under investigation by Mueller. “I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong,” Trump told the newspaper.
On Sessions, Trump said, “if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”
The interview, which the Times described as “wide-ranging,” also included questions about health care and other topics, but the Russia investigation and its fallout dominated the conversation, the newspaper says.
The Times writes:
“Describing a newly disclosed informal conversation he had with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a dinner of world leaders in Germany earlier this month, Mr. Trump said they talked for about 15 minutes, mostly about ‘pleasantries.’ But Mr. Trump did say that they talked ‘about adoptions.’ Mr. Putin banned American adoptions of Russian children in 2012 after the United States enacted sanctions on Russians accused of human rights abuses, an issue that remains a sore point in relations with Moscow.”
The discussion about “adoptions,” is apparently a reference to the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law meant to punish Russian human rights abusers by barring them from entering the U.S. The Russian parliament responded to the law by banning American citizens from adopting Russian orphans.
It is the same law that Donald Trump Jr. says was a topic of conversation at a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on then-campaign opponent Hillary Clinton.
According to the Times: “Mr. Trump acknowledged that it was ‘interesting’ that adoptions came up since his son, Donald Trump Jr., said that was the topic of a meeting he had with several Russians with ties to the Kremlin during last year’s campaign.”