Trump's chief of staff attempts to discredit Mueller, prop up Mexican tariffs

Trump's chief of staff Mick Mulvaney criticized Robert Mueller and defended the president's Mexico tariffs

Published June 2, 2019 2:00PM (EDT)

Mick Mulvaney (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
Mick Mulvaney (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mick Mulvaney made the rounds on Sunday's news talk shows to criticize special counsel Robert Mueller, support the president's threatened tariff increases on Mexico and downplay the need for gun control legislation.

During an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Mulvaney found himself being challenged by anchor Chris Wallace about Trump's claim that Mueller had a conflict of interest while serving as special counsel because he had asked Trump to become FBI director. The exchange began when Wallace showed a clip from a recent press conference with Trump.

"I think he’s totally conflicted because as you know, he wanted to be the FBI director and I said no," Trump said at the press conference. "As you know, I had a business dispute with him after he left the FBI, we had a business dispute. Not a nice one. He wasn’t — he wasn’t happy with what I did."

After showing the clip, Wallace said to Mulvaney that "the Mueller report says that that’s not true. It quotes Steve Bannon as saying that — that Mueller, yes he met with the president but he didn’t want to return to being the FBI director, and it also quotes Bannon as saying on this question of a conflict, which was about an initiation fee at a golf club, a Trump golf club, Bannon said any idea that that was a real conflict was ridiculous."

After telling Wallace that he was not "familiar with that, I wasn’t really that heavily involved in the transition," Mulvaney defended the president by arguing that "I’m not sure that Steve Bannon is the most reliable source for information about what was happening in the White House during that time." After Wallace pointed out that the former White House chief strategist had testified under oath when he made his assertions, Mulvaney simply replied that "my statement stands. I’m not sure Steve Bannon is the best source for information."

He added that "the Mueller Report is finished. It’s over. He closed down the shop this week. You’ve heard what we’ve had to say about this many times; it was clear, no collusion, no obstruction. The case is closed. It’s over. Democrats want to keep going and that’s fine, but issues like this, we think, are behind us now."

Mulvaney also talked with "Fox News Sunday" about Trump's threatened 5 percent tariff against all goods coming into the United States from Mexico due to illegal immigration.

"He is absolutely, deadly serious. I fully expect these tariffs to go on to at least the 5 percent level on June 10," Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday," according to Politico. He later added that "the president is deadly serious about fixing the situation at the southern border."

Mulvaney also appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press," where he insisted that the Trump administration did not need to strengthen gun laws in order to prevent mass shootings like the one that led to 12 deaths in Virginia Beach on Friday.

"There are things the government can do and there are things this government is doing, but we are never going to protect everybody against everybody who is deranged," Mulvaney told "Meet the Press," according to NBC News.

He added, "You have laws on the books that make murder illegal, yet they still do it. Laws are not going to fix everything."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has also appeared in Mic, MSN, MSNBC, Yahoo, Quartz, The Good Men Project, The Daily Dot, Alter Net, Raw Story and elsewhere.

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