Speaking with host Sean Hannity, the president said Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the campaign amounted to an attempted “coup” that left “great people” suffering at the hands of “very serious Trump-haters.”
“This was a coup,” Trump told Hannity, calling into the show from the White House. “Bigger than Watergate, because it means so much. This wasn’t stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup. Like a third world country and inconceivable.”
He later classified the effort as “an attempted overthrow of the United States government.” Trump used such language earlier this month after Mueller’s report was completed.
The interview was the president’s first television appearance since the Justice Department released a redacted copy of Mueller’s full report earlier this month. While the investigation did not find that there was a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government, the special counsel detailed 10 instances in which the president may have obstructed justice, although Mueller declined to issue a determination on whether those cases rose to the level of a crime.
Trump spoke at length about Mueller’s probe on Thursday, calling it a “one-sided witch hunt” and repeating the defense made by Attorney General William Barr, whom the president recently appointed. His statements also echoed those of Hannity himself, who has regularly used his airtime to blast the investigation and defend the president.
“Sleepy Joe,” Trump mused. “A lot of people wanted me to change the word ‘sleepy’ to a word that rhymes with it, but I thought it was too nasty.”