President Trump draws a red line for Mueller on Russian probe in explosive NYT interview

President Trump appeared to be sending a warning to Special Counsel Robert Mueller to avoid crossing a “red line” in his Russia investigation.

The president, it seems, “warned that investigators would cross a red line if they delve into Trump family finances unrelated to Russia,” according to a report featuring Trump’s explosive interview with the New York Times published Wednesday.

In the 50 minute interview which covered many topics, Trump took on the subject of the special counsel, noting conflicts of interest within the office and a sense that investigators should stay focused on matters only dealing with Russia.

Trump reportedly expressed frustration with Mueller, a former F.B.I. director, criticizing him and accusing lawyers in his office of financially contributing to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The president admitted that he interviewed Mueller to replace former FBI Director James Comey before appointing him as special counsel.

“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Trump told the Times’ Maggie Haberman, Peter Baker and Michael Schmidt. After naming him special counsel, Trump continued, “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

The president was asked if Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it began to delve into Trump family finances unrelated to Russia.

“I would say yes,” he responded though did not elaborate on what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

Trump also spent some time discussing Comey and accusing the former FBI chief, whom he fired in May, of trying to use a “phony” dossier to threaten him. The president appeared to have no regrets over his decison to fire Comey.

“I did a great thing for the American people,” he said.

Trump leveled a harsh assessment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in the Times interview. Apparently a sore point for the president, Trump revealed that he would not have even appointed Sessions if he had known that he would remove himself from the probe.

“It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president,” he said.

The interview shed some light on an informal conversation between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a dinner of world leaders at the G20 Summit in Germany earlier this month. Trump revealed that the two leaders spoke for about 15 minutes, mostly about “pleasantries.”

He added, however, that they also talked “about adoption,” which the president found “interesting” given that his son, Donald Trump Jr., had revealed that adoptions were the topic of a meeting he had with several Russians during last year’s campaign.

The Kremlin still takes issue with sanctions issued by the United States against Russia over alleged human rights abuses, which led to Putin banning American adoptions of Russian children in 2012.

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