Former Trump aide flip-flops on vow to snub Mueller
Sam Nunberg says he'll likely co-operate with special counsel, hours after defiant on-air interviews
A former aide to U.S. President Donald Trump, Sam Nunberg, said in several television interviews on Monday he would refuse to comply with a subpoena to testify before a grand jury in the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
But a few hours later, Nunberg reversed his statement, telling The Associated Press he's likely "going to end up co-operating" with the investigation.
Mueller, since the spring of 2017, has been investigating Russian interference into the 2016 campaign and has the authority to recommend charges for any alleged criminal behaviour.
"I'm not going to co-operate. Why do I have to spend 80 hours going over my emails that I've had with [former Trump adviser] Steve Bannon and with [Trump associate] Roger Stone," Nunberg told MSNBC in the afternoon. "Why does Bob Mueller need my emails when I send Roger and Steve clips and we talk about how much we hate people."
"Let him arrest me," he told the Washington Post in a separate interview on Monday, referring to Mueller.
Nunberg told the Post he would rip up the subpoena in a planned appearance on Bloomberg TV.
White House: 'He's incorrect'
To MSNBC, Nunberg said he got the impression from his interview with Mueller's team that they had evidence implicating Trump, but he said he couldn't say for sure.
Nunberg's decision to air his views publicly was not based on legal advice. "I think my lawyer is [going to] dump me," he said.
At the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about Nunberg's comment that Trump "may have done something" during the election.
Nunberg, through his relationship with Stone, began advising Trump as he plotted his presidential campaign.
He was let go in August 2015 after a series of posts from years earlier to his Facebook account came to light. Included were several posts referring to Barack Obama's Kenyan heritage and a post about Rev. Al Sharpton that referred to the "N-word."
During a late-afternoon interview on CNN, Nunberg said he was "not a fan of Trump," but that he continues to have a close relationship with Stone, whom he calls his mentor, and whom he believes has become a target in the investigation.
"I'm not interested in going in there, and for them to set up a case against Roger Stone, who had no communication with Julian Assange," Nunberg said. Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks, which released internal emails hackers obtained from the Clinton campaign during the hotly contested U.S. presidential election.
But in the evening, Nunberg had changed his mind. He told the AP that he's angry about being asked to share his email conversations with a long list of Trump's ex-aides. He'd like the special investigator to narrow its scope of inquiry.
Trump filed a $10 million US lawsuit against Nunberg in July 2016, accusing him of violating a nondisclosure agreement, but they settled the suit one month later.
John Dean, a White House counsel to President 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."
With files from CBC News and The Associated Press