President Trump has repeatedly brushed off claims that he and his associates colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election in order to tilt the results in their favor. Now, a report from Politico offers further ammunition for his critics and acts as the latest chapter in the ever-unfolding scandal, which stretches back to the earliest days of his presidency.
On Wednesday evening, the outlet reported that President Trump had called up two GOP senators in July and earlier this month to “vent his frustrations” over the ongoing investigation, according to sources familiar with the situation. One of those senators was Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN); the other was Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).
“He was clearly frustrated,” one source said of Trump’s call with Corker, during which the president expressed his displeasure with the recent bipartisan Russia sanctions bill, which was passed on July 25. Trump signed the bill on August 2, after calling the measure “seriously flawed.”
According to three sources with knowledge of the Trump-Corker phone call in July, the president “argued that the legislation was unconstitutional” before adding that it would “damage his presidency.” Trump also reportedly tried to convince Corker that the Russia sanctions weren’t “good policy,” but Corker pushed back, telling the president that the bill “was going to pass both houses with bipartisan support” anyway.
In a call with Tillis in early August, Trump reportedly became upset over legislation that the North Carolina senator was working on with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) that would block any attempt by the president to fire independent counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is currently investigating possible ties between the Trump administration and Russia. According to one of the sources who spoke with Politico, Trump was reportedly “unhappy with the legislation and didn’t want it to pass.”
Both senators’ spokespersons confirmed the calls had taken place, but claimed the calls had been “cordial” and “productive.”
While troubling, the Corker and Tillis phone calls are just the latest in a string of attempts by Trump to interfere in the Russia investigation—a pattern that began shortly after he entered the Oval Office in January.
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Image: Jim Mattis