Former advisor to President Donald Trump’s campaign Sam Nunberg began a kamikaze media tour on Monday. After boasting to The Washington Post his refusal to testify before a grand jury as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Nunberg called into CNN accusing his former colleagues of conspiring with the Kremlin.
“I don’t think [Carter Page] should’ve been involved in that campaign,” Nunberg told Jake Tapper, referencing a former Trump foreign policy advisor under investigation by the FBI for communication with Russian officials. “And he was colluding with the Russians.”
Adding that Page was introduced to Trump by the campaign’s former manager Corey Lewandowski—a political operative in conflict with Nunberg’s mentor Roger Stone—Nunberg claimed that the president was made aware of a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyers offering damaging information on former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“He talked about it a week before,” noted Nunberg.
“He hasn’t worked at the White House, so I certainly can’t speak to him or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters after Nunberg began freewheeling between media appearances.
CNN’s Kaitlin Collins remarked on Twitter that White House aides were stunned by Nunberg’s statements, which may carry significant legal consequences.
Should the former aide refuse to testify before a grand jury, Mueller could seek an order from the court that he comply with the subpoena. The court would then hold a hearing where Nunberg would be able to provide his reasoning for refusing to testify, in which case Mueller could decide whether to offer immunity (either over specific questions or broadly) or hold him in contempt (either civil or criminal).
“This happened in Whitewater with Susan McDougal. She refused to answer certain questions and went to jail for 18 months,” Kimberly Wehle, a former assistant U.S. Attorney and associate independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, told Observer.
In the Whitewater investigation, McDougal refused to answer three questions about whether former president Bill Clinton lied in his trial testimony. After serving 22 months while the investigation continued, McDougal was pardoned by Clinton.
Although Nunberg’s refusal to comply with Mueller could result in a conviction on federal charges, his remarks against Page and Trump are little more than cable theatrics.
“From having been on the Whitewater investigation, there’s a tremendous disconnect between what the media knows and what’s actually going on inside the investigation,” added Wehle. “At that time, we didn’t have the 24/7 news cycle that exhausted every single tidbit to its theoretical possibility. I don’t think it’s meaningful what he has to say on CNN, for the liability of Carter Page or the president.”