Former Trump aide defies Mueller summons before backing down, agreeing to cooperate

Sam Nunberg said he was incensed over Mueller’s request for him to appear before a grand jury in relation to the Russia probe.

world Updated: Mar 06, 2018 23:17 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Sam Nunberg,Donald Trump,Robert Mueller
Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg.(Videograb / MSNBC)

A former Trump campaign aide spend most of Monday saying that he would defy a subpoena by special counsel Robert Mueller, before backing down and admitting that he would comply with the summons.

Sam Nunberg said he was incensed over Mueller’s request for him to appear before a grand jury in relation to the Russia probe and turn over thousands of emails and other communications he had had with other current and former officials. But he said he was going to “end up cooperating with them”.

His tone throughout the day had been completely different — he gave a series of bizarre interviews in which he lashed out at US President Donald Trump, the administration, and Mueller.

“Why do I have to do it?” Nunberg told CNN of the subpoena, freely sharing with reporters the summons and an attached order to provide copies of communication between him and Trump and nine other individuals. “I’m not cooperating,” he said later as he challenged officials to charge him.

To another interviewer, he asked: “Should I spend 80 hours going over my emails?”

He later told CNN that Mueller “thinks Trump is the Manchurian candidate”, a reference drawn from a Cold War novel and film.

His rants were so unusual that one interviewer asked Nunberg if he had been drinking, but he replied in the negative — he had only taken his antidepressants.

Nunberg also said he thinks former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page — a key figure in the Russia investigation — worked with the Kremlin, calling him a “scumbag” and a “weird dude”. “I believe that Carter Page was colluding with the Russians,” Nunberg told CNN.

He also suggested Trump “may have very well done something during the election” and called him an “idiot”. And he blamed Trump for the Russia investigation, telling MSNBC that he was “responsible for this investigation ... because he was so stupid”.

The White House was quick to dismiss Nunberg and his claims. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who Nunberg called a “fat slob”, 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, who helped launch Trump’s presidential campaign, was fired in August 2015 over racially charged Facebook posts. Later, Trump sued him for breach of confidentiality, but the case was settled out of court.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 23:17 IST