Trump says he might watch a 'little bit' of Mueller testimony

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By Lauren Egan  with NBC News Politics
Image: US-TRUMP-POLITICS
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office at the White House on July 22, 2019.   -   Copyright  Nocholas Kamm AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said on Monday he might watch a "little bit" of special counsel Robert Mueller's public congressional testimony this week, stepping back from earlier statements that he would not be tuning into the long anticipated event.

"No, I'm not going to be watching," Trump first told reporters during a press event in the Oval Office on Monday with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, repeating his position of the previous week — before changing his mind. "Probably, maybe I'll see a little bit of it," he conceded, before backtracking again: "I'm not going to be watching Mueller because you can't take all those bites out of the apple."

Mueller is scheduled to testify on Wednesday before the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees. The hearings are public and are expected to be broadcasted live. In total, the hearings could last more than five hours.

Trump again attempted to damage Mueller's credibility Monday, repeating unfounded claims about conflicts of interest.

"There's a lot of conflicts he's got," Trump said of Mueller. "He wanted the job of the FBI Director, he didn't get it. And we had a business relationship where I said no, and I would say that he wasn't happy." There is no evidence that such claims are true, and the special counsel's report goes as far to directly refute Trump's claim that Mueller asked for the FBI position.

Trump criticized Democrats Monday, saying again they cared only about the Russia investigation and neglected other responsibilities.

"They've gone off the deep end. They're not doing anything. They're not doing healthcare. They're not doing infrastructure. They're not lowering drug prices," Trump said of Democrats. "All they care about is a phony investigation."

"They're wasting their time," he added.

However, Trump told reporters that he still respected Mueller because "he still ruled no collusion, no obstruction."

The Mueller report said it did not find sufficient evidence of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, though it documented extensive contact between the two sides. The report also did not clear Trump of obstruction of justice.

"We're never gonna allow this to happen to another president again, cause most of them wouldn't be able to take it," Trump added.

Trump also said Monday that Pakistan was "going to help us out to extricate ourselves" from the war in Afghanistan. "If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week," the president said. "But I don't want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the earth. I don't want to go that route."