WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Thursday that he would leave it up to Attorney General William P. Barr to decide whether Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, may testify before Congress on the Russia investigation.
His comments were a seeming reversal, since Mr. Trump wrote over the weekend on Twitter that Mr. Mueller should not be allowed to appear before Congress.
In a surprise, 45-minute news conference in the Roosevelt Room, his first since the release of the special counsel’s report, Mr. Trump also said he was “pretty surprised” that his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was subpoenaed to testify in front of the Senate about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign.
“My son is a good person,” Mr. Trump said. “My son testified for hours and hours. My son was totally exonerated by Mueller.” The president did not make it clear whether he would fight the subpoena, only saying vaguely: “We’ll see what happens. I’m just very surprised.”
Mr. Trump, who for months has been advised not to personally attack Mr. Mueller, described him on Thursday as “somebody that is in love with James Comey,” referring to the former F.B.I. director Mr. Trump fired.
He also appeared to hedge on claiming that the Mueller report cleared him of obstruction of justice charges, telling reporters that the findings showed that there was “no collusion and, essentially, no obstruction.”