WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Trump campaign aide promised to defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller and unloaded on President Donald Trump and his campaign in a series of stunning interviews Monday.
Sam Nunberg said he thinks Mueller may already have incriminating evidence on Trump directly, although he would not say what that evidence might be. He also said the president probably knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his top campaign staff and a team of Russians.
Shortly after he lobbed that allegation, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders rebuffed him during the White House press briefing.
“I definitely think he doesn’t know that for sure because he’s incorrect. As we’ve said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign,” Sanders said. “He hasn’t worked at the White House, so I certainly can’t speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.”
Nunberg also said he thinks former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page worked with the Kremlin. “I believe that Carter Page was colluding with the Russians,” Nunberg said on CNN. “That Carter Page is a weird dude.”
Page called Nunberg’s accusations “laughable” in a comment to The Associated Press.
Page also has figured in the Russia investigation. The Justice Department and FBI obtained a secret warrant in October 2016 to monitor his communications. His activities during the presidential campaign that raised concerns included a July 2016 trip to Moscow.
Nunberg did not respond to requests for comment from the AP. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined comment.
During his afternoon tirades, Nunberg detailed his interview with Mueller’s investigators, mocking them for asking questions like if he had heard Russian being spoken in Trump Tower. He then said he would reject a sweeping demand from Mueller for communications between him and top Trump advisers.
“I think it would be funny if they arrested me,” Nunberg said on MSNBC.
He later added on CNN: “I’m not going to the grand jury. I’m not going to spend 30 hours going over my emails. I’m not doing it. Why do I have to do it? ... I’m not cooperating. Arrest me.”
Nunberg is the first witness in the ongoing federal Russia investigation to openly promise to defy a subpoena. But he’s not the first to challenge Mueller: Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a lawsuit in January challenging Mueller’s authority to indict him.
It’s unclear how much Nunberg would know about the inner workings of the Trump campaign or the White House. He never worked at the White House and was jettisoned from the Trump campaign early on, in August 2015. Trump filed a $10 million lawsuit against Nunberg in July 2016, accusing him of violating a non-disclosure agreement, but they settled the suit one month later.
John Dean, a former White House counsel to Richard Nixon during Watergate, tweeted Monday that Nunberg can’t flatly refuse to comply with a grand jury subpoena:
“This is not Mr. Nunberg’s decision, and he will be in criminal contempt for refusing to show up. He can take the Fifth Amendment. But he can’t tell the grand Jury to get lost. He’s going to lose this fight.”