Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says; read it here
By CHAD DAY, ERIC TUCKER and MICHAEL BALSAMO Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Public at last, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday that President Donald Trump had 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.
Report PDF: Report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election
In a previously unreported episode, the report said that in June 2017, Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to call the acting attorney general and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest.
McGahn refused — deciding he would rather resign than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre of Watergate firings fame.
For all of that, Mueller said in his report that he could not conclusively determine that Trump had committed criminal obstruction of justice.
The Justice Department posted a redacted version of the report online Thursday morning, 90 minutes after Attorney General William Barr offered his own final assessment of the findings.
Eager to get in a first word ahead of the public release of the special counsel’s report, Barr on Thursday laid out in advance what he said was the “bottom line:” No collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government hackers.
While Mueller drew no conclusion about whether President Donald Trump had obstructed justice in the investigation, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein personally had concluded that while Trump was “frustrated and angry” about the Mueller probe, nothing the president did rose to the level of an “obstruction-of-justice offense.” Barr said Mueller’s report examined 10 episodes pertaining to Trump and obstruction.
Barr said at a news conference that the president did not exert executive privilege to withhold anything in the report. And he said the president’s personal attorney had requested and gotten a chance to review the report before its public release.
Barr said that he and deputy Rod Rosenstein disagreed with some of Mueller’s “legal theories” pertaining to obstruction of justice. But he said that didn’t influence their conclusion that Trump didn’t commit a crime.
He said they set their feelings on the matter aside and accepted Mueller’s “legal framework for purposes of our analysis” but still determined that the evidence gathered by Mueller was “not sufficient to establish” that Trump had violated the law.
Barr said that no one outside the Justice Department has seen the unredacted Mueller report. And he added that no redactions were either made or proposed outside of the small group of Justice staffers that pored over Mueller’s report.
The report’s release represents 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.