“The President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f—–,’ ” Mueller’s report states
April 18, 2019 04:53 PM
In the immediate wake of Robert Mueller being named as special counsel to investigate President Donald Trump and Russia, Trump reacted with visible dismay — and pushed to have Mueller removed, a potentially treacherous move his aides resisted, according to Mueller’s report of his work.
The 448-page report was released Thursday morning after being redacted. It recounts in detail not just the scope of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election but also the “numerous” links between Russia and Trump’s campaign (and, subsequently, his administration) as well as Trump’s efforts to circumscribe or derail Mueller’s probe.
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According to his report, Mueller investigated three key areas: potential Russian election interference, which he substantiated; potential coordination or conspiracy between Trump’s circle and Russia, which he did not establish; and whether Trump criminally obstructed justice in his efforts to thwart the investigation against him.
Mueller did not make a decision on that last question, though Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein found that there was insufficient evidence the president committed obstruction.
Mueller’s report nonetheless details various efforts Trump undertook to counter the investigation, including ordering that Mueller be fired.
Then-White House Counsel Don McGahn declined to do so, given the political risks, according to the report. Trump “did not follow up on his request.”
The president “sought to have Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions unrecuse from the Russia investigation and to have the Special Counsel removed, and engaged in efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses,” Mueller’s report states.
From the beginning of Mueller’s investigation, in mid-2017, the president was alarmed at Mueller’s work, according to the report.
“When Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f—–,’ ” the report states.
“The President became angry and lambasted the Attorney General for his decision to recuse from the investigation, stating, ‘How could you let this happen, Jeff?’ ” the report continues, adding, “Sessions recalled that the President said to him, ‘you were supposed to protect me,’ or words to that effect.”
Trump correctly believed that Mueller’s investigation would take years, according to the report. He said, “I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
In the two years since, Trump has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as “hoax” and politically motivated “witch hunt,” and he rejoiced at Mueller’s conclusion that he did not find any conspiracy or coordination between Trump and Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.
Ever colorful, Trump celebrated the investigation’s end as happily as, according to Mueller, he had rued its start.
He tweeted last month: “Complete and Total EXONERATION.”