Before heading out on his trip to Japan, President Donald Trump spoke with the press Friday reasserting his claim that he is the “most transparent” President.
“I was the most transparent, and am, transparent President in history,” Trump said, going on to cite how many interviews and documents special counsel Robert Mueller’s team went through.
While it’s difficult to judge levels of transparency between US presidents, Trump has worked to hide personal information from the public and did not fully cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
Facts first: Trump has refused to release his tax returns, has battled congressional subpoenas for his financial information and refused to be interviewed in person by Mueller’s team.
Dive deep into the Mueller report
Breaking decades of precedent, Trump never released his tax returns to the public and is working to block subpoenas from the House to access his financial records.
Additionally, Trump refused to be interviewed by Mueller’s team. The President submitted written answers to questions from Mueller’s team instead, and only about events that happened before he took office, which means he refused to answer questions about potential obstruction of justice. Investigators found his answers “incomplete” and “imprecise,” according to the Mueller report, but Trump repeatedly rejected their requests for an in-person interview.
More recently, the President has instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena to testify before Congress.
While Trump’s transparency and cooperation with Mueller are limited, his campaign did provide the special counsel with more than 1.4 million pages of documents, according to Trump’s lawyers – a number that the President regularly touts to demonstrate his cooperation. And the White House didn’t fight the special counsel’s efforts to interview at least two dozen members of the Trump administration – interviews that provided a major boost to Mueller’s inquiry into obstruction of justice.
To support his claims of transparency, Trump said on Friday that he “gave 500 witnesses” to Mueller’s team, which is incorrect. CNN’s Facts First looked at this same claim on Wednesday. Here’s what we found:
Mueller interviewed 500 witnesses, but Trump could control the testimony only of White House aides. More than two dozen Trump administration officials voluntarily gave interviews to the special counsel. The fruits of those interviews created the foundation of the obstruction inquiry.
Federal investigators interviewed hundreds of people the President didn’t have any control over. For example, Mueller’s team spoke to Russian banker Petr Aven, conservative author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, and the translator at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.
Trump’s claim that he is the most “transparent President in history” does not hold up to even the softest scrutiny.