Trump and His Aides Seek to Dismiss Mueller Hearings as a Desperate Act

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Monday that he had no intention of watching Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in the Russian meddling case, testify on Wednesday before Congress, denouncing Democrats for “wasting their time.”

Then he added, “Maybe I’ll see a little bit of it.”

Mr. Trump’s history of remaining glued to television news — especially when the coverage is about him — suggests that he is certain to be tuned in as Democrats on Capitol Hill use Mr. Mueller’s appearance to amplify the damning report about the president and the people in his orbit.

But ahead of the congressional hearings, Mr. Trump and his aides sought to dismiss them as nothing more than a desperate attempt to elicit from Mr. Mueller something that could justify impeachment proceedings.

“We had a total ‘no collusion’ finding. The Democrats were devastated by it. They went crazy. They have gone off the deep end,” Mr. Trump said during a lengthy question-and-answer session with reporters in the Oval Office, adding, “All they care about is a phony investigation.”

Mr. Trump’s comments came after he posted about Mr. Mueller on Twitter earlier in the day, calling him “highly conflicted” and saying that his testimony would be “bad for him and the phony Democrats in Congress who have done nothing but waste time on this ridiculous Witch Hunt.”

The president’s tone was echoed by his aides. Kellyanne Conway, his counselor, called the hearings “a do-over of the do-over of the do-over” and said they were an insult to taxpayers and American democracy.

Mr. Mueller is scheduled to testify before two congressional committees starting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Cable and broadcast television networks have said they intend to air the hearings live.

Democrats have said they believe Mr. Mueller’s testimony will bring to life the detailed, 448-page report, which established no criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but did cite evidence of what Democrats say is clearly obstruction of justice.

The report declined to reach a conclusion about whether Mr. Trump was guilty of obstruction, citing a Justice Department policy that prevents indicting a sitting president. Democrats hope to press Mr. Mueller to state what he believes about Mr. Trump’s culpability.

But even as the president railed against Mr. Mueller online and in person, he also sought to continue his criticism of four Democratic congresswomen of color after a week in which his tweets about them dominated news coverage.

If the president wanted to move on from that controversy, it was not apparent on Monday morning as he tweeted again about the women: Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts.

“The ‘Squad’ is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart,” Mr. Trump wrote. “They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border…And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!”

That tweet came days after the Democrat-controlled House approved a resolution that condemned as racist the language the president used in his earlier criticism of them. And it came just after Mr. Trump left the White House for a brief trip to the Supreme Court, where the body of former Justice John Paul Stevens was lying in repose.

The president and the first lady, Melania Trump, paid their respects to Justice Stevens moments later.

During remarks to reporters several hours later in the Oval Office, while sitting next to Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, he added to his criticism.

“I think they’re very bad for our country,” Mr. Trump said of the four women. “I think they’re very bad for the Democrat Party. I think you see that. And they’re pulling the Democrats way left. Nobody knows how to handle them. I feel they’re easy to handle. To me they’re easy to handle because they’re just out there.”

Mr. Trump went on to claim that “there’s no racial tension” in the United States, citing unemployment rates for African-Americans and other minorities. “We have fantastic relationships with the African-American community, and I think you’ll see that in 2020.”

At one point, Mr. Trump seemed to mix together his frustrations with the Mueller testimony and his criticism of the four lawmakers by lashing out at the House for taking a vote to impeach him.

The vote, which failed 332 to 95, called for the president’s removal from office because of his tweets aimed at the women. But the president seemed to see it as vindication in the Russia case.

“It’s nonsense, O.K.,” he said, referring to the Russia inquiry but then mentioning last week’s vote. “They tried an impeachment vote and they got slaughtered last week. They got absolutely slaughtered. It was the most ridiculous — I didn’t even know they were going to do it.”

He praised Democrats who voted against the impeachment resolution, adding that “they’re doing the right thing for the country — no collusion, no obstruction.”

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