WASHINGTON — A former Trump campaign aide promised to defy a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller and unloaded on President Donald Trump and his campaign, throwing down the challenge, "Arrest me."
"Why do I have to do it?" Sam Nunberg told CNN of Mueller’s request to have him appear in front of a grand jury and turn over thousands of emails and other communications with other ex-officials, among them his mentor Roger Stone.
"I’m not cooperating," Nunberg said later as he challenged officials to charge him.
Nunberg said he thinks Mueller may already have incriminating evidence on Trump directly, although he would not say what that evidence might be.
"I think he may have done something during the election," Nunberg told MSNBC of the president, "but I don’t know that for sure." He later told CNN that Mueller "thinks Trump is the Manchurian candidate." A reference drawn from a Cold War novel and film, a "Manchurian candidate" is an American brainwashed or otherwise compromised to work on behalf of an adversarial government.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders rebuffed Nunberg’s first allegation during the White House press briefing. "I definitely think he doesn’t know that for sure because he’s incorrect. As we’ve said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign," Sanders said.
Nunberg also said he thinks former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page, a key figure in the Russia investigation, worked with the Kremlin. "I believe that Carter Page was colluding with the Russians," Nunberg said on CNN. "That Carter Page is a weird dude."
Page called Nunberg’s accusations "laughable" in a comment to the Associated Press.
In the interviews, Nunberg said he believes the president probably knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his eldest son, top campaign staff and a team of Russians, which Trump has denied. And he blamed Trump for the investigation into Russia meddling, telling MSNBC that he was "responsible for this investigation … because he was so stupid."
In his CNN interview, he said, "I’m not going to the grand jury. I’m not going to spend 30 hours going over my emails. I’m not doing it. Why do I have to do it? … I’m not cooperating. Arrest me."
John Dean, a White House counsel to President Richard Nixon during Watergate, tweeted Monday that Nunberg can’t flatly refuse to comply with a grand jury subpoena: "This is not Mr. Nunberg’s decision, and he will be in criminal contempt for refusing to show up."