WASHINGTON—A former Trump campaign aide said Monday he would refuse to testify before a grand jury impaneled by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and wouldn’t provide documents related to senior Trump associates and campaign officials.
Sam Nunberg, who served as a communications consultant to the Trump campaign in 2015 and as an informal adviser after that, said he had received a subpoena from Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors for documents related to nearly a dozen campaign officials and other advisers. Those include President Donald Trump, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, outgoing White House communications director Hope Hicks, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, political adviser Roger Stone and longtime Trump aide Keith Schiller.
“I’m not doing it,” Mr. Nunberg told The Wall Street Journal. He also complained about legal bills related to the special counsel’s probe that he and other Trump associates have paid. “Why do I have to spend another thousand dollars?” he said.
Mr. Nunberg, who was interviewed by the special counsel’s team last month, said he had been asked to testify before Mr. Mueller’s grand jury this coming Friday, but he didn’t plan to go.
A little-known aide who has said he was fired from the Trump campaign, Mr. Nunberg on Monday gave a series of bizarre, freewheeling television interviews in which he divulged details of his contact with the special counsel, referred to the president as “an idiot” and wondered aloud whether he would be jailed for his refusal to comply.
“I think it would be funny if they arrested me,” Mr. Nunberg told MSNBC.
When it comes to the Russia investigation, the word "Collusion" gets thrown around a lot. But there’s not a lot of clarity on what it actually means. Is it illegal? Is it grounds for impeachment? We asked a law professor to explain. Photo Illustration: Drew Evans/The Wall Street Journal.
“I think my lawyer might dump me,” he told the Journal. “I don’t give a shit.”
Mr. Nunberg is the first Trump associate to publicly refuse to comply with Mr. Mueller’s orders. He was paid more than $41,000 by the Trump campaign for communications consulting in 2015, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Mr. Nunberg’s decision to discuss details of his interview with the special counsel’s team on TV also marks a sharp break from the public behavior of others interviewed by Mr. Mueller.
The special counsel also is investigating whether Trump associates helped Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the president has obstructed justice. Moscow has denied election meddling and Mr. Trump has denied colluding with Russians. Several people in Mr. Trump’s orbit have admitted to having had contact with Russians during the campaign.
In one of two CNN interviews on Monday, Mr. Nunberg said he couldn’t have been colluding with Russia during the campaign because he was spending his time trying to oust former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. He said he believed former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, whom he called a “weird dude,” had colluded with Moscow.
Mr. Page, in an interview with the Journal, called Mr. Nunberg’s allegation “laughable.” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, Mr. Nunberg “hasn’t worked at the White House, so I certainly can’t speak to him, or the lack of knowledge that he clearly has.”
A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.
If Mr. Nunberg refuses the special counsel’s subpoena, Mr. Mueller can go before a federal judge to obtain a court order compelling him to provide the requested information. If he doesn’t comply with that order, he could face sanctions, including potential jail time.
Mr. Nunberg said in an interview that he was asked by the special counsel’s team whether Mr. Trump had taken policy positions related to his business interests, whether he heard discussions about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign, and whether he overheard people speaking Russian in the campaign office.
Mr. Nunberg said he answered all three questions in the negative.
Asked whether he believed the special counsel’s team was building a case on Mr. Trump’s own actions during the election, Mr. Nunberg told MSNBC, “I think they may. I think he may have done something during the election, but I don’t know that for sure.”
Mr. Nunberg also told CNN that the special counsel’s team asked about a June 2016 meeting arranged by Mr. Trump’s eldest son at Trump Tower between top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin. Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied that he knew about the meeting. In the CNN interview, Mr. Nunberg said he believed Mr. Trump was aware of the meeting.
“He talked about it for a week before, and I don’t know why he did this,” Mr. Nunberg told CNN. “All he had to say was, ‘Yeah, we met with the Russians. The Russians offered us something, and we thought they had something,’ and that was it. I don’t know why he went around trying to hide it when he shouldn’t have.”
Mr. Nunberg was no longer working for the campaign at the time of the Trump Tower meeting, but remained in touch with others in the operation.
He told CNN: “Robert Mueller thinks Trump is the Manchurian candidate,” a reference to the novel and films about a brainwashed former soldier who runs for office.
Mr. Nunberg also told the Journal that he was asked by the special counsel’s team about Mr. Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks, which published a trove of hacked emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. Intelligence agencies have concluded those emails were hacked by Russia as part of an effort to tip the presidential race toward Mr. Trump.
Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com