- Mueller report released to public after almost two-year investigation
- Redacted report finds Russians ‘did not have cooperation of President’
- Trump tweets ‘GAME OVER’ and says ‘I’m having a good day’
- Mueller found Trump’s answers ‘inadequate’ but decided against subpoena
- Democrats decry ‘partisan effort to spin Mueller report’
- Who is Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor behind the Russia investigation?
Donald Trump ordered the removal of special counsel Robert Mueller after expressing fears the probe would “end” his presidency, according to the newly released Mueller report.
Mr Trump called Don McGahn, at the time his White House counsel, after reports that he was personally being investigated by the probe and directed him to fire Mr Mueller, according to the report.
Mr McGahn refused to and instead prepared to resign. However he ultimately stayed in post after Mr Trump did not follow up on his request.
The 448-page report was released on Thursday morning. The full findings are still emerging as journalists and congressmen scour the full document.
Mr Mueller, who was tasked with looking into Russian election meddling in the 2016 campaign, makes clear in the report that he was not exonerating Mr Trump over obstruction of justice.
The report states: “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.
“Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
The report is split into two volumes – the first looking at Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the second looking at claims Mr Trump obstruction the investigation that followed.
Mr Mueller concludes that neither Mr Trump nor his campaign advisers conspired with the Kremlin during the campaign, either over the hacking of Democrat Party emails or the drive to spread disinformation to US voters.
In the second volume, Mr Mueller spells out in minute detail 11 episodes involving the president that raised questions when it came to potential obstruction of justice.
One involved Mr Trump calling Mr McGahn and ordering the removal of Mr Mueller, the man who was overseeing the probe into Russian election interference.
The report recounts that when Mr Mueller was appointed in May 2017, Mr Trump said: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f—–.” It says that the following month, June 2017, The Washington Post reported that Mr Mueller was investigating whether the president himself had obstructed justice.
The following Saturday, Mr Trump called Mr McGahn twice and urged him to tell the man overseeing the probe – Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general – that Mr Mueller had conflicts of interest.
Mr McGahn recalled Mr Trump telling him in the second call that “Mueller had to go”. Instead of following the direction Mr McGahn prepared to resign, but was persuaded not to by senior advisers.
Other incidents of alleged obstruction probed in detail included Mr Trump’s firing of James Comey, the FBI director, and his attempts to limit the Mueller probe’s remit. Mr Mueller eventually decided not to come to a conclusion on whether Mr Trump had obstructed justice, instead handing the decision to the Justice Department, which in turn decided to bring no charge.
William Barr, the US attorney general, held a press conference before the report’s release on Thursday morning and outlined the pressure Mr Trump was under at the time of his alleged actions.
Mr Barr said: “In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context.
“President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates.
“At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion.”
Trump campaign says ‘investigate’ those who started the Russia probe
Brad Parscale, Mr Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, has issued a statement.
He said: “President Trump has been fully and completely exonerated yet again. Now the tables have turned, and it’s time to investigate the liars who instigated this sham investigation into President Trump, motivated by political retribution and based on no evidence whatsoever.
“Now that the collusion and obstruction conspiracy theories have been exposed for the pathetic hoaxes they always were, the Obama-era department of justice and FBI must answer for their misdeeds, and the scam that they perpetrated against the American people. Justice will be served.”
Why Mueller decided not to prosecute Trump Jnr
The investigation decided not to prosecute the president’s son, Donald Jnr, and other members of the campaign for campaign finance violations over their infamous Trump Tower meeting because they couldn’t prove their “mental state”.
“Taking into account the high burden to establish a culpable mental state in a campaign-finance prosecution and the difficulty in establishing the required valuation, the Office decided not to pursue criminal campaign-finance charges against Trump Jr. or other campaign officials for the events culminating in the June 9 meeting.” Mr Mueller added: “A prosecution would encounter difficulties proving that Campaign officials or individuals connected to the Campaign willfully violated the law.”
The report also notes that when journalists learned that a Russian lawyer had proposed the June meeting and offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump edited Donald Jnr’s response to the reporters admitting those facts. Instead, Donald Jnr’s statement claimed the meeting had been about adoptions. He later acknowledged the real reason but described it as “opposition research”.
Mr Trump’s personal lawyer “repeatedly denied the president had played any role” to journalist, the report states.
Trump attempted to fire Mueller
Mr Trump called then White House counsel Don McGahn in June 2017 and directed him to call the acting attorney general and say Mr Mueller ”had conflicts of interest and must be removed”. Mr McGahn refused to do so, saying he would “rather resign”.
Trump: ‘I’m f—-d’ after Mueller appointment
After Mr Mueller’s appointment Donald Trump said: ”I’m f—-d’.
According to the report, Mr Trump was devastated when Mr Mueller was appointed as special counsel.
He told attorney general Jeff Sessions: “Oh my God this is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’ m f—-d. How could you let this happen Jeff?
“Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything.
“This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”
Mueller ‘unable’ to conclude Donald Trump was ‘not guilty of obstruction’
Mr Mueller said in his investigation report he was unable to declare Mr Trump not guilty of obstruction of justice based on the evidence.
He wrote: “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.
“Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
BREAKING: Mueller said he lacked confidence to clear Donald Trump of obstruction of justice but suggested Congress could take action on at least 10 instances where the president sought to interfere with the probe.
— Mike Dorning (@MikeDorning) April 18, 2019
House Democrats call for Mueller to testify before them
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has “formally invited” Mr Mueller to testify before the committee.
“After a two year investigation, the public deserves the facts, not Attorney General Barr’s political spin,” Mr Schiff says.
Republicans have hit back, saying it is time to “move on”.
Russia investigation sparked 14 other probes
Mr Mueller referred 14 investigations to other state prosecutors, including one of Mr Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and one involving President Obama’s former White House counsel Greg Craig.
The other 12 investigations have been redacted.
Mueller found Trump’s answers ‘inadequate’ but decided against subpoena
Mr Mueller’s team considered Mr Trump’s written answers “inadequate”, but decided against issuing a subpoena for an in-person interview because it would delay the investigation, the report reveals.
The special counsel wrote in the report: “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”.
“We had sufficient evidence to understand relevant events and to make certain assessments without the President’s testimony.” The report also states that although the Office of Legal Council has concluded a sitting president cannot be prosecuted, “a criminal investigation during a President’s term is permissible.”
The report also highlights that the OLC legal opinion recognises that Mr Trump “does not have immunity” after he leaves office.
Trump: I’m having a ‘good day’
Donald Trump says he is having a ‘good day’. Attending an event for Wounded Warriors the president said: “I’m having a good day. Its’ called ‘No collusion, no obstruction’.
“There never was there never will be. This should never happen to another president again, this hoax.”
Pelosi: ‘staggering partisan effort to spin Mueller report’
Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat House Speaker, says: “AG Barr has confirmed the staggering partisan effort by the Trump admin to spin the public’s view” of the Mueller report.
Russia says it is not concerned by Mueller report
Alec Luhn in Moscow writes: Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian president is not following the publication of the Mueller report.
“For us this isn’t an issue, it’s not a topic of interest, it’s not a topic of fear, it’s not a topic of concern. All these reports by Mueller and other reports about this until today have not brought anything besides superficial, unprofessional statements. We have lots of other important, interesting, fruitful and constructive affairs, so we prefer to concentrate on that,” Mr Peskov said.
Specifically, Mr Putin was shown on state TV meeting with the governor of the Moscow region to discuss the development of the road system today. At the same time, Mr Peskov confirmed that Mr Trump’s security council Russia advisor Fiona Hill did indeed visit Moscow, as was reported by a Russian newspaper this morning. She met in the Kremlin with top Putin advisor Sergei Ushakov to discuss “questions of bilateral relations” when she was in Moscow on April 16-17, he said. He said she did not discuss a possible meeting between Trump and Putin.
Trump: ‘Game over’
Mr Barr concludes his 22-minute press conference which was full of positive news for the president. As he took questions Mr Barr was asked to defend himself against accusations that he was spinning the report on Mr Trump’s behalf. Mr Barr dismissed the question and brought the q&a session to a close shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile Mr Trump, who was watching the conference live from the White House, tweeted “no obstruction, no collusion. Game over” with a Game of Thrones inspired image of himself.
Barr says Trump had ‘non-corrupt motives’ and ‘cooperated fully’
Mr Barr says: “Evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the president had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.
“There is substantial evidence to show that the president was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.”
He went on to say: “The White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims.”
He says none of the redactions in the report were made due to executive privilege, a legal doctrine that allows the president to withhold information from other government branches.
The White House counsel was given an opportunity to read the report before publication.
10 episodes of Trump obstruction of justice
Mr Barr says Mr Mueller examined ten episodes pertaining to President Trump and obstruction of justice.
The report “recounts ten episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offence”.
But he added that he and Rod Rosenstein, the dputy attorney general, had decided “the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offence.”
We do not yet know what these episodes relate to but the firing of FBI director James Comey is likely to be one of them. At the time, the Trump administration said they were taking the action because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. However, Mr Trump later admitted in an NBC interview that “this Russia thing” was on his mind when he fired him.
Trump faced ‘unprecedented situation’
Mr Barr says “in assessing the president’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation”.
“As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as president, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinising his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the president’s personal culpability.”
Trump campaign did not collude with Russia, AG says
Attorney General Bill Barr began by talking about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He said: “I am sure all Americans share my concern about the Russian attempt to interfere in our investigation. Thanks to the special counsel’s investigation we now know that the Russians did not have the co-operation of President Trump or the Trump campaign. “
Barr and Rosenstein ‘disagreed’ with Mueller on obstruction of justice
Attorney General Bill Barr opens his press conference by stating he is “committed to ensuring the greatest degree” of transparency. Mr Barr says he will deliver a redacted copy of the Mueller report to Congress at 11am (4pm UK) and the report will then be posted the department’s website.
“Volume 1” of Mr Mueller’s report focuses on the question of Trump-Russia collusion, Mr Barr says. Going on to say it “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government.”
He went on to thank his deputy Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Russia investigation, for staying on to see its conclusion. However he went on to say that he and Mr Rosenstein disagreed with some of Mr Mueller’s “legal theories” about obstruction of justice.
5am texts from Trump’s lawyer
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, has been up since the crack of dawn briefing the press on the White House’s take on the report. “Ready to rumble,” Mr Giuliani texted the Washington Post in anticipation of the Mueller report, adding the counter-report his team has been preparing is “30 or so” pages “without appendix.”
Robert Mueller may be called to Congress
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on Wednesday he would “probably find it useful” to call Robert Mueller and members of his team to testify after reading a redacted version of the report.
Mr Nadler also criticised the attorney general for trying to “bake in the narrative” of the report to the benefit of the White House.
Late Wednesday, Mr Nadler joined the chairs of four other House committees in calling for William Barr to cancel his news conference. But Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, defended Mr Barr and accused Democrats of “trying to spin the report.”
Mr Collins said Mr Barr had done “nothing unilaterally,” saying he had worked with Mr Rosenstein and Mr Mueller’s team “step by step.”
Democrats have vowed to fight in court for the disclosure of the additional information from the report and say they have subpoenas ready to go if it is heavily redacted.
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