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Trump slams Mueller probe, mocks Sessions and Comey

Trump slams Mueller probe, mocks Sessions and Comey
U.S. President Donald Trump hugs American flag at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) annual meeting at National Harbor near Washington, U.S., March 2, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas -
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Yuri Gripas(Reuters)
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(Editor's note: Language in 1st and 8th paragraphs may offend some readers)

By Katanga Johnson and Steve Holland

OXON HILL, Md. (Reuters) - President Donald Trump criticized U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Saturday ahead of his report on alleged Russia collusion by the Trump campaign in 2016 and said his political opponents were "trying to take me out with bullshit."

Trump launched into a tirade about the series of events that led to the investigation, mocking both his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and former FBI Director James Comey, both of whom Trump fired.

The president addressed a cheering audience at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a Washington suburb, in a more than 90-minute speech, just days after his former lawyer Michael Cohen called Trump a "racist," "con-man" and a "cheat" in congressional testimony.

"We're waiting for a report by people who weren't elected," Trump said of the Mueller report, which is widely expected to be handed over to Attorney General William Barr in the coming days.

Mueller was appointed by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 to take over the Russia investigation after Trump fired Comey, whose agency had led the probe initially. Rosenstein is expected to step down by mid-March.

Swarms of young adults stood to applaud the president in the packed hotel ballroom where he spoke, at times breaking into chants like "Trump is our Man" and "We Love You."

Trump said on Saturday that Comey was Mueller's "best friend," and he appeared to complain that Comey should have been fired before Trump took office.

"Unfortunately, you put the wrong people in a couple of positions and they leave people for a long time that shouldn't be there and all of a sudden they are trying to take you out with bullshit, okay?" Trump said.

"Now Robert Mueller never received a vote and neither did the person who appointed him," he added.

Despite his complaints, Trump has made no move to fire Mueller, a Republican and well-respected former FBI director who has conducted his investigation with utmost secrecy.

Trump also mocked the Southern accent of Sessions, a former U.S. senator from Alabama who was one of the first Republican lawmakers to back Trump's presidential bid, and criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe. Trump fired Sessions in November.

(Reporting by Katanga Johnson and Steve Holland; editing by Michelle Price and Leslie Adler)

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