President Donald Trump responded to special counsel Robert Mueller for the first time on camera Thursday morning saying “Robert Mueller should have never been chosen" and calling him "a true never Trumper."
The president spoke to reporters as he left for a trip to Colorado a day after Mueller broke more than two years of silence about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice, saying he did not have the "option" of charging the president with a crime but that "if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so."
Despite that, Trump insisted, "He said, essentially: 'You're innocent.' There was no crime, there was no charge because he had no information."
Before speaking to reporters, Trump tweeted that he had "nothing to do with Russia helping me get elected."
But later, Trump appeared to walk back that statement.
"The whole thing is a scam. It's a giant presidential harassment," Trump said. "Russia did not help me get elected. You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all,” Trump said, adding that, if anything, Russia helped “the other side” get elected.
"I believe Russia would rather have Hillary Clinton as president of the United States than Donald Trump," the president said. "The reason is nobody has been tougher on Russia than me."
"I think it was the same as the report," Trump said when asked for his reaction to Mueller's statement. "There's no obstruction. There's no collusion. There's no nothing. It's nothing but a witch hunt."
"There was no high crime and there was no misdemeanor," Trump said when asked about impeachment. "So, how do you impeach based on that?"
"I don't see how... I can't imagine the courts allowing it," Trump said. "To me, it's a dirty word, the word 'impeach.' It's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word," he said.
The president also said that Mueller was "totally conflicted" because of an alleged business dispute he claimed he had with Mueller, discussions he had with Mueller about the position of FBI director early in the Trump administration and called him a friend with former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired in 2017.
“He loves Comey,” Trump claimed. “Whether it’s love or a deep like, he was conflicted.”
"I think in the end, I will consider what is happening now one of my greatest achievements," Trump said. "Exposing this corruption."
The special counsel's report (Vol. II, page 80) undercuts Trump's oft-repeated claim that Mueller wanted the FBI job, noting testimony from the president's aides that Mueller was instead invited by the White House to provide to the president his perspective on the agency based on his 12 years as FBI director -- not to apply for the position. The business dispute Trump claims existed is similarly discounted in a Mueller report footnote (Vol. II, page 80) that states Mueller had requested a partial refund of his initiation fee from one of Trump's golf clubs in Virginia after having moved out of the state and that there was no dispute. Trump's then-political strategist Steven Bannon is quoted (Vol. II, Page 81) as having told Trump his claims of purported conflicts were "ridiculous."