Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg publicly defied the Justice Department special counsel on Monday, announcing in an extraordinary series of media interviews that he had been subpoenaed to appear in front of a federal grand jury investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election but that he will refuse to go.
“Let him arrest me,” Nunberg told The Washington Post in his first stop on a media blitz, saying he does not plan to comply with a subpoena from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to hand over emails and other documents related to President Trump and nine current and former Trump advisers.
“Mr. Mueller should understand I am not going in on Friday” to the grand jury, he added. It is unclear what actions Mueller might take if Nunberg does not appear.
In a remarkable act of rebellion, Nunberg seized the national media spotlight for much of Monday afternoon to denounce Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” and to detail what he said he had learned about the probe from his private interview last month with Mueller’s team. He at times sounded nervous and self-doubting, openly questioning his legal fate. And by Monday evening, he signaled a possible shift, telling the Associated Press he might cooperate with Mueller after all.
Nunberg, a top political staffer for Trump in the run-up to the campaign, was fired in 2015 and has since existed on the fringes of Trump’s orbit as a consultant. White House officials on Monday attacked his credibility and characterized his media appearances as unhinged.
Following his interview with The Post, Nunberg called in live to MSNBC, CNN and other networks for lengthy phone interviews — a spectacle reminiscent of Trump routinely calling into cable television control rooms during the 2016 campaign.
Nunberg said repeatedly that he believes Mueller is trying to build a case that Trump was “the Manchurian candidate.”
He said that he suspects Mueller has concluded that Trump “may have done something,” based on the questions he was asked by the special counsel’s team.
The line of questioning, Nunberg told MSNBC anchor Katy Tur, “insinuated to me that [Trump] may have done something, and he may very well have.” He added: “Trump may have very well done something during the election. I don’t know what it is. I could be wrong, by the way.”
Nunberg said that the special counsel had sought to persuade him to testify against another former Trump adviser, Roger Stone, on collusion with Russians, but he said he would not because Stone has been a friend and mentor to him.
Nunberg nursed an old grudge against campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and was unsparing in his criticism of the White House staff and the president himself.
He complained to The Post that Trump had treated him, as well as Stone and others, terribly and would eventually regret it. He later said during an in-person evening appearance on MSNBC: “I wanted Trump to lose. I thought it would be funny.”
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Article originally posted on washingtonpost.com