Sam Nunberg may have been fired twice by Donald Trump, sued once and denounced several times, but he is showing surprising loyalty to the president by refusing to answer a subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
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The veteran prosecutor is demanding his testimony and that he provides a large trove of documents and communications to a grand jury this Friday as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Defiant to the end, Nunberg called Mueller’s bluff in a show of bravado.
“Let him arrest me,” Nunberg told The Washington Post. “Mr. Mueller should understand I am not going in on Friday.”
Nunberg also told The Post he will not spend hours gathering documents and collecting emails related to a long list of people Mueller wants to hear about including former White House strategist and Nunberg friend Steve Bannon, former Trump advisor and Nunberg friend Roger Stone, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manfort, Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and Hope Hicks, who recently resigned as Trump’s communications director.
“I’m not spending 80 hours going over my emails with Roger Stone and Steve Bannon and producing them,” Nunberg told The Post. “Donald Trump won this election on his own. He campaigned his ass off. And there is nobody who hates him more than me.”
Nunberg seems willing to put himself in a lot of personal and legal jeopardy for a president he says he hates, who has cast him aside and made clear he is no longer his friend.
There is speculation it may be Bannon that Nunberg is really trying to protect.
Mueller has had his eye on Nunberg for some time as a witness. Weeks ago it was reported that Mueller had informed Nunberg “he’s not a target of the probe and won’t be prosecuted unless he’s found to have lied to investigators,” according to Bloomberg on Feb. 21.
Nunberg has met with Mueller’s investigators already although it is not known if he cooperated or what they discussed.
In what is being called a “bizarre interview” with NBC Katy Tur today, Nunberg confirmed he had been interviewed by Muller’s team.
Tur asked him if he thought Muller “has anything” on Trump?
“I think they may,” Nunberg replied. “I think he may have done something during the election. But I don’t know for sure.”
KATY TUR: "Do you think that they [i.e., Mueller] have something on the president?
NUNBERG: "I think they may… I think he may have done something during the election. But I don't know that for sure." pic.twitter.com/RWkKZwJFw9
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 5, 2018
Now Mueller wants to put Nunberg under oath to discuss what he knows from the period he did work for and with Trump, from mid-2011 until August 2015, when he was fired from the Trump campaign in the wake of a Business Insider article about his racist Facebook posts.
Mueller’s questions might include what Trump did in Moscow in 2013 when he was there for the Miss Universe pageant which he owned at the time.
Nunberg is quoted extensively in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury,” about the early months of the Trump administration.
Wolff reported that Nunberg was “generally regarded as the man who understood Trump’s whims and impulses best.”
After he was discarded by Trump, Nunberg continued as a close associate of Steve Bannon and even went on TV to defend Bannon after he was forced out of the White House last August by Trump.
Nunberg was fired from Trump’s campaign in August 2015 after Business Insider published a story about his racially-charged Facebook posts. In July 2016, Trump sued him for violating a confidentiality agreement. After an arbitration, the suit was dropped the following month.
The Washington Post reported it is not clear what Mueller will do if Nunberg stands by his refusal to cooperate, but the fact is the Special Counsel has considerable authority to charge Nunberg with a crime if he obstructs justice, lies or stonewalls.
For someone who is educated and experienced, Nunberg seems to be either naive or out of his mind if he thinks this will all end because he says it is over.
if he has been paying attention to the methodical, careful, legally strategic Mueller has done his job, Nunberg should be at his computer right now gathering his emails to turn over and planning his trip to New York City for this Friday.