Matt Shuham contributed reporting.
That escalated quickly.
Shortly after the Washington Post reported Monday that former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg was subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team for his communications with President Donald Trump and other campaign aides, and that Nunberg plans to ignore the subpoena, the former aide joined MSNBC to repeatedly declare that he would not turn over information to Mueller.
Nunberg’s frustration with the subpoena was quickly made apparent in his interview with MSNBC’s Katy Tur.
“What they sent me was absolutely ridiculous. They wanted every e-mail I had with Roger Stone and with Steve Bannon. Why should I hand them e-mails from November 1st, 2015?” Nunberg asked rhetorically. “I’m not going to cooperate when they want me to have — when they want me to come in to a grand jury, for them to insinuate that Roger Stone was colluding with Julian Assange. Roger is my mentor. Roger’s like family to me. I’m not going to do it.”
Nunberg complained that it would take too much time and effort for him to look through more than two years worth of communications — Mueller requested Nunberg send all communications he had with Trump and nine campaign aides, according to the Washington Post. He specifically mentioned that he does not want to sift through all of his emails with Stone and Steve Bannon.
“I’m not going to spend 80 hours because a bunch of FBI agents and a bunch of U.S. attorneys want me — to harass me,” Nunberg said on MSNBC.
In the lengthy, bizarre interview, Nunberg seemed unconcerned that he could be held in contempt of court for refusing Mueller’s subpoena.
“I think it would be really, really funny that they wanted to arrest me because I didn’t want to spend 80 hours going over emails I had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone,” he said.
Nunberg previously sat down with Mueller’s team, when investigators asked him if Trump took positions on the campaign trail because of his business interests, Nunberg said on MSNBC. He also said that based on his interview with Mueller’s team, he thinks there’s a chance Trump colluded with Russia, though Nunberg did not say he had any evidence of that.
“I think they may,” Nunberg said when Tur asked if Mueller’s team has something on Trump. “I think he may have done something during the election. But I don’t know that for sure.”
“The way they ask questions about anything I heard after I was fired from the campaign to the general election to even November 1, it insinuated to me that he may have done something. And he may well have,” he added when pressed by Tur.
Asked about Nunberg’s comments about what Mueller may have on Trump during the daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “He’s incorrect.”
Nunberg continued making his case on national television at 6:00 p.m. with MSNBC’s Ari Melber.
“Sarah should shut up,” he said of the White House press secretary at one point during the 30-minute interview. “I’m warning her, by the way, to shut her mouth.”
Nunberg said he would refuse to honor the special counsel’s subpoena for his communications with Bannon and Stone, among others, saying of those two in particular: “I communicate with them every day.” He repeatedly said he would not participate with Mueller’s probe if the special counsel was “trying to build a case against Roger.”
“They probably have something on Trump,” he said separately. “Trump did something pretty bad, if I understood.”
“I think they were interested in something with his business,” Nunberg said, referring to the President.
He openly dared Mueller to pursue a prison sentence for contempt of court.
“You know what, Mr. Mueller, if he wants me to go to jail, he can send me to jail and then I’ll laugh about it,” Nunberg said. “And I’ll make a bigger spectacle than I am on your TV show right now.”
At the end of the interview, Nunberg hinted that he may change his mind.
“I would have no problem going to the grand jury, but I, once again, don’t want to have to spend 80 hours going over emails,” he said.
“You’d rather spend possibly a year in jail than 80 hours going through emails?” asked Maya Wiley, former counsel to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and a panelist on Monday’s show.
“I’m not going to jail,” Nunberg protested as Melber ended the interview. “You think I’m going to jail?”
He added, as Melber went to commercial: “If Mueller wants to send me to jail, that is a joke.”
The special counsel’s office declined to comment in an email to TPM.
This post has been updated.
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