As weather delays kept Air Force One circling above South Carolina's Columbia Metro Airport Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump used Twitter to lash out at Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, referencing a comment the lawmaker allegedly made over the weekend about the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to the Russian government.
"Why is Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), perhaps in a near drunken state, claiming he has information that only he and Bob Mueller, the leader of the 13 Angry Democrats on a Witch Hunt, knows?" the president asked. "Isn't this highly illegal. Is it being investigated?"
The president was apparently referring to reports that Warner, who hosted a dinner Friday at his home on Martha's Vineyard, joked to the crowd of about 100 in attendance that it's "going to be a wild couple of months" in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible links between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian state actors.
A report from Politico's Playbook said Warner, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, joked to his guests: "If you get me one more glass of wine, I'll tell you stuff only Bob Mueller and I know. If you think you've seen wild stuff so far, buckle up."
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When asked for clarification in the Capitol Monday, Warner told reporters he'd made "a bad joke" but wouldn't comment further, according to NBC News.
The senator's spokeswoman offered a similar explanation of the alleged remarks: "Because it was obviously a JOKE. (Admittedly, not a very GOOD joke.)" she tweeted Monday in response to Trump. "Why is our President spending time on this today?"
During the same time frame Monday, the president also tweeted that a congressional hearing for an FBI agent removed from Mueller's team over anti-Trump tweets should be shown to the public.
Peter Strzok was scheduled to talk to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday behind closed doors. The panel subpoenaed him after an internal report from the Justice Department revealed new anti-Trump texts between Strzok and his colleague Lisa Page. Both Strzok and Page worked on the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.
Trump tweeted, "The hearing of Peter Strzok and the other hating frauds at the FBI & DOJ should be shown to the public on live television, not a closed door hearing that nobody will see. We should expose these people for what they are - there should be total transparency!"
Strzok and Page also worked on Mueller's team for a period last year. Strzok, a seasoned counterintelligence investigator, was reassigned from the special counsel team after the derogatory text messages were discovered during an inspector general review of the Clinton email investigation and brought to Mueller's attention. Page had already left the team.
Strzok was recently escorted from the FBI building as his disciplinary process winds through the system, his lawyer has said.
Trump traveled to South Carolina Monday to stump for Republican Gov. Henry McMaster in West Columbia on the eve of Tuesday's state primary, returning the favor after McMaster provided Trump with an early endorsement in his presidential campaign.
This is not the first time the president has expressed frustration over the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible links between Russian operatives and members of his campaign team. He frequently refers to the federal investigation as a "witch hunt."