MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
One of President Trump's former campaign advisers says he won't comply with the Russia investigation. Sam Nunberg worked for the president in the very early stages. He said today he has received a subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And he says he is not going to do what it orders him to do. In fact, he said so in a few press and TV appearances today. Here he is on MSNBC.
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SAM NUNBERG: When I get a subpoena like this, the president's right, it's a witch hunt. And I'm not going to cooperate. What do I have to spend 80 hours going over my emails?
KELLY: NPR's Tim Mak has been covering this story today. He joins me now. Hey, Tim.
TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey, there.
KELLY: First of all, who is Sam Nunberg? I confess I had never heard of him before today.
MAK: Well, he's an individual who worked with the Trump organization for four years, then later the Trump campaign in its very infancy. He was fired in the summer of 2015 when it emerged that he had written some racially charged Facebook posts years prior to that. He's been bouncing around as someone who speaks and gives commentary on what the Trump campaign was like and what it's, you know, what the organization was up to in the early stages.
And today he just had a total meltdown across several networks. On MSNBC, on two shows on CNN, he's asking for legal advice, even though he's a lawyer, admitted to the bar in the state...
KELLY: He's a lawyer?
MAK: He's a lawyer.
MAK: And he's asking people on television, hey, you know, should I comply with these subpoenas? And then on the other hand saying, I'm absolutely not going to comply with any subpoenas issued by the special counsel.
KELLY: Yeah, I was flicking back and forth between channels today and every channel I flicked to, he was all over it. What does he say the special counsel wants? Do we know what's in the subpoena?
MAK: Well, he's been very clear. And it appears that he sent the subpoena to numerous people in the news media. The subpoena's asking for communications between him and other folks in the Trump campaign, including Steve Bannon, the former White House aide to Donald Trump, and Roger Stone, who's been an adviser to Donald Trump for many years.
And Sam Nunberg also was asked to come and testify before a grand jury on Friday. And he's saying, I won't do it.
KELLY: Why not?
MAK: He's saying, why should I have to?
MAK: And he even taunted the special counsel in saying, come and arrest me. I don't care.
KELLY: He has been legally subpoenaed. What are the penalties if he just doesn't show up?
MAK: Well, there are a lot of penalties to include jail time. The last person to refuse a subpoena of this kind before a grand jury was an individual who was subpoenaed during the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration. And she spent 18 months in jail. So this is no small matter here when you're talking about a special counsel and a subpoena. And he's really rattling a cage here.
KELLY: Yeah. What might it tell us about what Mueller knows, what direction he's taking his investigation in that they are asking to speak to someone whose knowledge of the Trump campaign would have ended way back in 2015?
MAK: Well, it's really hard to kind of to guess what Mueller is getting at here. That whole office is so opaque. But what it does tell us is that the scope of his inquiry is pretty broad. It goes back to at least 2015, maybe prior to that. And Sam Nunberg has had a lot of communications with top Trump advisers. He said himself today, oh, I talked to Roger Stone and Steve Bannon eight times a day.
Why should I give up my communications with them?
KELLY: NPR's Tim Mak, thank you for that very interesting reporting.
MAK: Thank you.
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