VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Public at last, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday that President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president.

Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed people around him to try to influence or curtail the Russia investigation after the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017. Those efforts “were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote.

After nearly two years, the two-volume, 448-page redacted report made for riveting reading.

In one particularly dramatic moment, Mueller reported that Trump was so agitated at the special counsel’s appointment on May 17, 2017, that he slumped back in his chair and declared: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f—-ed.”

In June of that year, Mueller wrote, Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the probe, and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest. McGahn refused — deciding he would rather resign than trigger a potential crisis akin to the Saturday Night Massacre of Watergate firings fame.

Two days later, the president made another attempt to alter the course of the investigation, meeting with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and dictating a message for him to relay to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The message: Sessions would publicly call the investigation “very unfair” to the president and say that Mueller should limit his probe to “investigating election meddling for future elections.” Sessions didn’t do so.

Flash forward to Thursday, and Trump celebrated the report’s release, telling the audience at an unrelated White House event that he was having “a good day, too. It was called no collusion, no obstruction.” He also renewed his calls for an investigation into the origins of the inquiry, saying, “We do have to get to the bottom of these things, I will say.”

READ MORE: Trump keeps attacking as redacted Russia report

The Justice Department posted a redacted version of the report online, 90 minutes after Attorney General William Barr offered his own final assessment of the findings.

The release represented a moment of closure nearly two years in the making and at the same time the starting bell for a new round of partisan warfare.

Democrats cried foul as Barr held a press conference just before the release — “spinning the report” in the words of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. They sent up a chorus of calls for Mueller himself to testify before Congress, and Barr said he wouldn’t object.

Moments after Barr finished speaking, House Judiciary Chairman Nadler sent a letter requesting that Mueller himself testify before his panel “no later than May 23.”

Mueller evaluated 10 episodes for possible obstruction of justice, and said he could not conclusively determine that Trump had committed criminal obstruction. The episodes included Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, the president’s directive to subordinates to have Mueller fired and efforts to encourage witnesses not to co-operate.

The president’s lawyers have said Trump’s conduct fell within his constitutional powers, but Mueller’s team deemed the episodes deserving of criminal scrutiny.

As for the question of whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mueller wrote, “While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.”

Mueller also said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge any campaign official with working as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia.

The report included an appendix that contained 12 pages of Trump’s written responses to the special counsel. They included no questions about obstruction of justice, as was part of an agreement with Trump’s legal team.

Trump told Mueller he had “no recollection” of learning in advance about the much-scrutinized Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer. He also said he had no recollection of knowledge about emails setting up the meeting that promised dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

He broadly denied knowing of any foreign government trying to help his campaign, including the Russian government. He said he was aware of some reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made “complimentary statements” about him.

U.S. Mueller Report by on Scribd

Trump said that his comment during a 2016 political rally asking Russian hackers to help find emails scrubbed from Clinton’s private server was made “in jest and sarcastically” and that he did not recall being told during the campaign of any Russian effort to infiltrate or hack computer systems.

Mueller’s team wrote that Trump’s answers were “inadequate.” They considered issuing a subpoena for Trump, but decided against it after weighing the likelihood of a long legal battle.

Nancy Benac, Chad Day, Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon-area duo still awaiting trial for animal abuse

Trial date expected to be set within the next three weeks

Vernon woman named one of B.C.’s Top 40 business leaders

Amanda Shatzko, consultant and politician, picked up Business in Vancouver Top 40 selection

Lavington garage goes up in flames

The house next to the garage was minimally damaged; residents required to vacate home temporarily

Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings take spotlight in Vernon

Outlaw Country to revive classics of the Man in Black in March

Vernon cadets medal at Sovereign Lake biathlon

First time in 15 years championships held on home turf

Okanagan divers ready to take on 2020 B.C. Winter Games

The athletes have been training four days a week

B.C. budget fails to ‘excite’ Kelowna business community

Chamber says Budget 2020 lacks a clearly defined competitiveness strategy

Shuswap woman creates stress-reducing cuffs for Alzheimer’s patients

Personal connection to disease adds meaning to endeavour

Penticton MLA urges government to address fatal stretch of Hwy 97

“People are being injured and lives are being lost on this stretch of highway.” - MLA Dan Ashton

Man accused in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire pleads not guilty to breach of bail

Supreme Court trial will decide arson charges while Provincial Court will look at breach charge

Province shows no interest in proposed highway between Alberta and B.C.

Province says it will instead focus on expanding the Kicking Horse Canyon to four lanes

Median cost of newly-built home in Kelowna metropolitan area stands at $950,000: Report

According to report, the price is almost on-par with newly-built homes in Toronto

Kelowna Rockets fire coach Adam Foote

General manager Bruce Hamilton made the annoucement Wednesday, named Kris Mallette interim coach

HERGOTT: Driving while intoxicated

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

Most Read