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Mueller subpoenas former Trump aide Sam Nunberg, who says he'll ignore it

| Monday, March 5, 2018, 4:22 p.m.
Sam Nunberg
Sam Nunberg

WASHINGTON — In a bizarre episode, Sam Nunberg, a former aide to Donald Trump, vowed Monday not to cooperate with the special counsel investigating Russian political interference even as he suggested that the president "may have done something" improper during the campaign.

It was a head-snapping statement from a onetime Trump loyalist, although it was unclear whether Nunberg had any evidence to back up his comments.

Trump fired Nunberg in August 2015, soon after he had announced his presidential bid, when racist comments on Nunberg's Facebook account were exposed.

The latest chain of events began when Nunberg started granting interviews to reporters about a two-page subpoena he received from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading the criminal investigation into whether anyone from Trump's team illegally aided Russian authorities during or after the campaign.

The grand jury subpoena requires Nunberg, who has already been interviewed by investigators, to appear before a grand jury Friday and to turn over any emails, correspondence, telephone logs or other records he had involving the president and nine others, including former strategist Stephen K. Bannon, outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks, and longtime adviser Roger Stone.

But Nunberg said he was not going to comply with the subpoena, either by providing documents or testifying. He could be held in contempt or even jailed for refusing to honor a grand jury subpoena, but the possibility didn't seem to faze him, at least for now.

"Let (Mueller) arrest me," he told The Washington Post.

Nunberg also said he agrees with Trump that there was no collusion between his campaign and Russian authorities, adding, "there is nobody who hates (Trump) more than me" because of how their relationship ended.

After that, Nunberg kept granting interviews, calling in to cable shows to talk about the subpoena and his thoughts on the investigation.

At times, his comments were confusing. He told MSNBC that the subpoena showed that "the president is right" and the investigation "is a witch hunt."

Then later in the same interview, Nunberg was asked if he thinks prosecutors "have something on the president."

"I think they may," he said. "I think he may have done something during the election."

The running commentary continued on CNN in two separate phone calls, and Nunberg sounded emboldened by his own defiance.

"I'm going to be the first one in history to say flat out, 'I'm not going'" to appear before the grand jury, he bragged in the second call.

Nunberg once again suggested that prosecutors may be building a case against Trump.

"They know something on him," he said. "I don't know what it is, and perhaps I'm wrong, but he did something."

Then he asked for legal advice.

"Do you think I should cooperate?" Nunberg said. "Should I spend 80 hours going over my emails?

"If it were me, I would," responded CNN host Jake Tapper.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders downplayed Nunberg's comments, noting that he's never worked in the administration.

"He's incorrect," she said. "As we've said many times before, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign."

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