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‘I’m f**ked’: Trump tried to fire Mueller from Russia probe but claims victory now after no collusion found

The Mueller report was released in full today.

Image: PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump attempted to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller nearly two years ago from the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The Mueller report, which was released today in full, describe Trump’s efforts to remove the special counsel following press reports that the president was under investigation for obstruction of justice.

Following the report’s release today, Trump hailed its conclusions as an exoneration, reiterating his now-famous mantra: “No Collusion. No Obstruction.”

The Mueller report, however, does reveal interesting details and insights into Russian meddling and the White House reaction to Mueller’s investigation.

On 17 June 2017, the Mueller report notes, Trump called White House counsel Don McGahn at home “and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed.”

“McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” the report said, a reference to an effort by US president Richard Nixon in 1973 to thwart the Watergate investigation.

As with the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, the attempt to remove Special Counsel Mueller “would qualify as an obstructive act if it would naturally obstruct the investigation and any grand jury proceedings that might flow from the inquiry,” the report notes.

The report also notes that there is “substantial evidence” indicating that Trump’s attempts to remove Robert Mueller were linked to the special counsel’s oversight of investigations that involved the president’s conduct – and, most immediately, to reports that the president was being investigated for potential obstruction of justice.

There is also substantial evidence that “the president’s effort to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions limit the scope of the special counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the president’s and his campaign’s conduct,” the report notes.

‘I’m f****d’

The main findings of the Mueller report, a heavily redacted and colour-coded manuscript, were already pre-rempted by Attorney General William Barr’s March 24 statement which said the Mueller investigation found no criminal collusion by Trump’s 2016 campaign with Russia, and insufficient evidence of obstruction of justice.

At a press conference this morning, Barr that there was not enough evidence to conclude that Trump obstructed justice.

The report, however, concludes that “if we had confidence a thorough investigations of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

For two years, the White House has denied any wrongdoing or collusion with Russia in 2016′s Presidential Election.

The report notes that when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Trump that Mueller had been appointed Special Counsel to oversee the investigation in 2016, the President “slumped back in his chair” and said: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”

Trump then became angry and “lambasted” Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from the investigation, asking: “How could you let this happen Jeff?”

Trump felt that Sessions had let him down and that Sessions recalled that Trump said words to the effect that “you were supposed to protect me”.

Trump then described Mueller’s appointment as ” the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

The report also notes that the investigation team sought “a voluntary interview ” with the President. “After more than a year of discussion the President declined to be interviewed [REDACTED].”

“We made the decision in view of the substantial delay that such an investigative step would likely produce at a late stage in our investigation.”

‘Pursued to some degree’

The investigation into Russian meddling in 2016′s election receieved testimony from 500 witnesses, issued 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants and examined more than 1.4 million pages of documents.

The report notes that, throughout 2016, the Trump campaign expressed interest in Hillary Clinton’s private email server and whether approximately 30,000 emails from that server had in fact been permanently destroyed, as reported by the media, the report notes.

“Several individuals associated with the campaign were contacted in 2016 about various efforts to obtain the missing Clinton emails and other stolen material in support of the Trump campaign.”

“Some of these contacts were met with scepticism, and nothing came of them; others were pursued to some degree.”

The investigation, however, did not find evidence that the Trump campaign recovered any such Clinton emails, or that these contacts were part of a coordinated effort between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Top Democrats have already called for Special Counsel Mueller to testify before the House and Senate.

In a joint-statement today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer criticised Barr for holding a press conference before Mueller’s report was delivered to Congress and hit out at what they described as his “slanted” letter from 24 March.

“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve to hear the truth.”

Representative Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said this afternoon that “even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct.”

“The responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the president accountable for his actions.”

Nadler called for Mueller to testify before Congress no later than 23 May. 

At a press conference this afternoon, Trump declared of the Mueller probe: “This should never happen to another president again.”

 

With reporting from Sean Murray

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