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In tweet, President Trump compares Mueller probe to McCarthy investigation

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of State

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, looks around the room during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Thursday in Washington. Credit: AP / Andrew Harnik

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, responding to a news report that White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, likened the investigation to Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s controversial search for communists in the 1950s.

"Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!" Trump tweeted, one in a series of Sunday morning tweets deriding Mueller’s probe into election interference and possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The president's Sunday morning tweet storm pushed back at a New York Times article published online Saturday night that indicated McGahn provided Mueller’s team with more than 30 hours of testimony, including insights into the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, which Trump has said was due in part to Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation. McGahn also reportedly offered up details on the president’s repeated calls for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to assert control over the special counsel probe, despite Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation last year over possible conflicts of interest.

According to the Times, McGahn first spoke freely with investigators at the behest of Trump’s former legal team, who believed cooperation was key and the president had nothing to hide. McGahn eventually became increasingly worried that Trump was setting him up to take the fall for alleged obstruction of justice charges, the Times story said, prompting McGahn and his personal attorney William Burck to decide it was in the White House counsel's best interest to cooperate as much as possible with Mueller’s probe on his own accord.

Trump took aim at the Times’ characterization of McGahn’s cooperation. The president on Twitter said he "allowed" McGahn and other White House officials to testify because "I have nothing to hide." Trump said the story implied McGahn "must be a John Dean type 'RAT'" referring to the former White House counsel for President Richard Nixon during Watergate. Dean’s cooperation with investigators eventually led to the downfall of the Nixon presidency, but he still had to serve four months in prison on an obstruction of justice conviction.

"The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite," Trump tweeted on Sunday, misspelling the word counsel.

McGahn’s personal attorney in a statement to The New York Times on Saturday said "President Trump, through counsel, declined to assert any privilege over Mr. McGahn’s testimony, so Mr. McGahn answered the special counsel team’s questions fulsomely and honestly, as any person interviewed by federal investigators must."

Dean, on Twitter, lauded McGahn’s cooperation with Mueller, writing "McGahn is doing right!"

Trump’s latest tweets denouncing the Mueller probe come as the president’s legal team continues to press the special counsel to conclude his more than a year long probe by next month.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, appearing on NBC’s "Meet the Press", said despite his call for Mueller to conclude the investigation in the coming weeks, Trump’s legal team was "not going to be rushed into having [Trump] testify so that he gets trapped into perjury."

"When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth," Giuliani told host Chuck Todd, of the prospect of Trump testifying before Mueller.

When Todd followed up, stating “truth is truth,” Giuliani replied “No, it isn’t …Truth isn’t truth.”

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