Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Sunday accused Republican leaders in the Senate and House of being “willing to carry the president’s water” no matter what his conduct is.
In an interview on ABC News’ “This Week,” Schiff said that willingness is the reason any effort by Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump would fail.
“We’re in an environment today where the GOP leadership, people like [House Minority Leader Rep.] Kevin McCarthy [R-Calif.], are willing to carry the president’s water no matter how corrupt or dishonest the president’s conduct may be.
“In those kind of circumstances, when [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] won’t stand up to the president either, that means impeachment will be unsuccessful.“
He said Democrats in Congress will have a choice to make.
“I think what we’ll have to decide as a caucus, what’s the best thing for the country,” he said. “Is this the best thing for the country, take up an impeachment proceeding? To do otherwise sends a message that this conduct is somehow compatible with office — or not take up impeachment that won’t be successful in the Senate because the Republican leadership won’t do its duty.”
In both his ABC News interview and on “Fox News Sunday,” Schiff maintained his assertion that evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is “in plain sight” — despite that finding by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“I have been clear over the last year, there’s ample evidence of collusion in plain sight,” he said on “This Week.” “I distinguish time and time again between collusion that’s acts of corruption that may or may not be criminal and proof of criminal conspiracy.”
He also addressed the issue when challenged on his assertion by “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.
“When I talked about evidence of collusion in plain sight, I used those words ‘in plain sight’ and I pointed to the meetings in Trump Tower that Don [Trump] Jr. and [Jared] Kushner and Paul Manafort took,” he said.
“What more clear intent to collude could you have than the Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of what was described as an effort to help Mr. Trump in the campaign and Don Jr. saying ‘if it’s what you say, I would love it?’”
Source: NewsMax Politics
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Sunday condemned the Mueller report as “unfair” and un-American, lamenting “when people have to prove their innocence, we’re in a different country.”
In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Giuliani charged investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller also came “close” to “torturing” former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — and depicted the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn as unreliable and “woefully confusing.”
“You think that’s a fair document, using a standard of proof that you have to absolutely prove your innocence?” he said, adding: “When people have to prove their innocence, we’re in a different country. By the way, the president is innocent.”
Giuliani said among the report’s outrages were Mueller team members themselves — “people who were unfair to [Trump], people who wrote an unfair report, people who came close to torturing people to get information.”
Pressed on his allegation of torture, Giuliani pointed to Manafort.
“How about Manafort in solitary confinement 13 times,” Giuliani said.
And he pounced on McGahn as well, who sat with Mueller for about 30 hours of interviews, revealing that he refused to act on Trump’s direction to set Mueller’s firing in motion.
“I think the testimony is woefully confusing and cannot be relied on,” Giuliani said. “If I were a prosecutor evaluating that, three different statements from one guy.”
Giuliani also hammered Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, for his remark that he was “sickened” by the level of dishonesty the Mueller report found in the Trump administration.
“Stop the bull,” Giuliani said of Romney, suggesting that he’d also tried “to dig up dirt on people.”
“What a hypocrite. What a hypocrite,” Giuliani declared. “Any candidate in the whole world in America would take information… who says it’s even illegal” if the data comes from a foreign source, he added.
“He did things very similar to that,” Giuliani contended of Romney.
Source: NewsMax Politics
U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to board Marine One en route to his Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida following the release of the Mueller report at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
April 19, 2019
By Chris Kahn
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The number of Americans who approve of President Donald Trump dropped by 3 percentage points to the lowest level of the year following the release of a special counsel report detailing Russian interference in the last U.S. presidential election, according to an exclusive Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll.
The poll, conducted Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, is the first national survey to measure the response from the American public after the U.S. Justice Department released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report that recounted numerous occasions in which Trump may have interfered with the investigation.
According to the poll, 37 percent of adults in the United States approved of Trump’s performance in office, down from 40 percent in a similar poll conducted on April 15 and matching the lowest level of the year. That is also down from 43 percent in a poll conducted shortly after U.S. Attorney General William Barr circulated a summary of the report in March.
In his report, Mueller said his investigation did not establish that the Trump campaign had coordinated with Russians. However, investigators did find “multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations.”
While Mueller ultimately decided not to charge Trump with a crime, he also said that the investigation did not exonerate the president, either.
The poll found that 50 percent of Americans agreed that “Trump or someone from his campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election,” and 58 percent agreed that the president “tried to stop investigations into Russian influence on his administration.”
Forty percent said they thought Trump should be impeached, while 42 percent said he should not.
The poll responses were sharply split along party lines, with Democrats much more critical of Trump than his fellow Republicans.
The Mueller investigation had previously charged 34 other people and three Russian entities, netting convictions or guilty pleas from several Trump associates including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen.
So far, the report does not appear to have convinced many to change their opinions about the president’s conduct during a bitter presidential campaign, whether his inner circle improperly engaged with Russian agents, or if he tried to interfere with federal investigators afterward.
Among those respondents who said they were familiar with the Mueller report, 70 percent said the report had not changed their view of Trump or Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential race. Only 15 percent said they had learned something that changed their view of Trump or the Russia investigation, and a majority of those respondents said they were now more likely to believe that “Trump or someone close to him broke the law.”
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,005 adults, including 924 who were familiar with the Mueller report. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points.
To see the entire Reuters/Ipsos poll, click here: https://tmsnrt.rs/2DjEq3R
(Reporting by Chris Kahn; Editing by Andrea Ricci)
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One as they travel to Florida for Easter weekend, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Al Drago
April 18, 2019
By Nathan Layne and Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller may not have found evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but his report details extensive contacts between the campaign and Russian operatives who sought to influence the election.
Mueller said in his report released on Thursday that he found “numerous links” and that the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit” from Russia’s effort to tilt the ballot in Trump’s favor.
Ultimately, Mueller determined the various contacts either didn’t amount to criminal behavior or would be difficult to prove in court, even if people in Trump’s orbit sometimes displayed a willingness to accept Russian help, the report showed.
Trump and his allies, who derided the Mueller probe as a political “witch hunt”, portrayed the report as vindication. “No collusion. No obstruction. For all the haters and the radical left Democrats, game over,” Trump tweeted on Thursday.
“The bottom line is the president is exonerated and the campaign is exonerated of collusion,” said Michael Caputo, a former adviser to Trump’s campaign.
Some legal experts and political strategists were more circumspect, saying the report confirmed the Russian government was attempting to help Trump with the election.
“I think that’s a pretty extraordinary finding of historical significance, whether or not there’s a crime,” said Matthew Jacobs, a former federal prosecutor who is now a San Francisco-based lawyer.
Many of the contacts in the report were already known. They included former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations in late 2016 with Sergei Kislyak, Russia ambassador at the time, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a political consultant who the FBI has determined has ties to Russian intelligence.
But the report contained fresh details on the range of official and unofficial dealings Trump campaign advisers and supporters had with Russians before and after the 2016 election.
For example, the report says that Manafort, shortly after he joined the campaign in the spring of 2016, directed his deputy to share internal polling data with Kilimnik with the understanding it would be passed on to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch known to have close ties to the Kremlin.
Lawyers for Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kilimnik did not reply to an email seeking comment.
A Washington-based attorney for Deripsaka said he could not comment. In a statement to Reuters in January, representatives for Deripaska said he has never had any communication with Kilimnik.
The report also says that Manafort told Kilimnik in August 2017 about the campaign’s efforts to win the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Trump ended up winning three of those states in the November election.
Mueller’s investigation did not find a connection between Manafort’s sharing of polling data and Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election or that he otherwise coordinated with Russia.
Frank Montoya, a former senior FBI official, said he was nonetheless bothered by the interactions between Manafort and Kilimnik, especially their talking about battleground states.
“As a longtime counterintelligence investigator it makes the hair stand on the back of my neck,” Montoya said.
The report detailed a meeting in December 2016 between Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and Sergei Gorkov, the head of a Russian state-owned bank under U.S. sanctions. Gorkov gave Kushner a painting and a bag of soil from the town in Belarus where Kushner’s family is from, the report says.
Mueller’s team said it could not resolve a conflict in the accounts of Kushner, who said the meeting was diplomatic in nature, and Gorkov, who said it was business related.
Kushner has said neither sanctions nor his business activities were discussed at the meeting. Kushner’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment on Mueller’s report.
The report also provided new details about a meeting that campaign advisers Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son, Kushner and Manafort held with a Russian lawyer at New York’s Trump Tower in June 2016. The meeting was set up after the advisers were promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic challenger for president.
Mueller’s team considered whether the advisers violated laws barring election contributions from foreigners. But, the report says, they ultimately decided there was not enough evidence to show they “wilfully” broke the law and they might have had problems proving the information offered on Clinton was really valuable.
When news of the Trump Tower meeting broke in July 2017, Trump Jr. issued a statement saying the meeting was set up to discuss adoption policy, not politics, before later admitting he had been expecting intelligence on Clinton.
Such interactions have broadly been referred to by Democratic congressional investigators as examples of possible “collusion”. But because collusion is not a legal term, Mueller’s team examined the Trump Tower meeting and other contacts through the lens of federal conspiracy law.
Mueller said his investigation was unable to establish that such contacts with Russians met the bar of criminality which required that the contacts “amounted to an agreement to commit any substantive violation” of U.S. laws, including those governing campaign finance and foreign agent registration.
Therefore, Mueller said his office “did not charge any individual associated with the Trump Campaign with conspiracy to commit a federal offense arising from Russia contacts.”
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball, Nathan Layne, Sarah N. Lynch, Karen Freifeld and Andy Sullivan in Washington; Editing by Ross Colvin and Paul Thomasch)
FILE PHOTO: Robert Mueller, as FBI director, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill in Washington June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo
April 18, 2019
By Sarah N. Lynch
(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday released a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his nearly two-year investigation into whether President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia or attempted to obstruct probes.
The following are some key quotes from Mueller’s 448-page report:
“When (former Attorney General Jeff) 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 fucked.’”
“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
“The evidence supports the inference that the President intended (former campaign Chairman Paul) Manafort to believe that he could receive a pardon, which would make cooperation with the government as a means of obtaining a lesser sentence unnecessary.”
“You gotta do this. You gotta call Rod …,” Trump told former White House Counsel Donald McGahn during a June 17, 2017, phone call in which he asked McGahn to remove Mueller due to conflicts of interest.
“Call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the Special Counsel,” Trump said during a second phone call that same day. “Mueller has to go. … Call me back when you do it.”
“I don’t have a lawyer,” Trump told aides on March 3, 2017, the day after learning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“You’re telling me that Bobby (Kennedy) and Jack (Kennedy didn’t talk about investigations? Or Obama didn’t tell Eric (Attorney General Eric) Holder who to investigate?” Trump asked McGahn in connection with frustration over Sessions’ recusal.
“Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over,” Trump said to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during a Valentine’s Day lunch in 2017. “No way,” Christie replied with a laugh. “This Russia thing is far from over… ‘(W)e’ll be here on Valentine’s Day 2018 talking about this.”
“…It would also be a bad idea for the President because it looked as if my ambassadorial appointment was in some way a quid pro quo.” – former Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland, who refused a request to draft an email declaring that Trump had not directed Michael Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
She documented the request in a memo, after she was asked to resign and offered a position instead as ambassador to Singapore.
“Can you look into this? Don’t want to get duped but don’t want to blow off Putin!” – former Trump campaign secretary Hope Hicks, in an email to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, after receiving an email from a Russian Embassy official with the subject line “Message from Putin.”
“If he doesn’t write a letter, then maybe I’ll have to get rid of him,” – Trump, telling Staff Secretary Rob Porter that he would fire White House Counsel McGahn if McGahn refused to craft a memo stating that Trump never directed him to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump also called McGahn a “lying bastard,” according to Porter’s account.
“Keep in touch with your friend.” – Trump, in directing Porter to keep in touch with former Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand to see if she might be interested in becoming attorney general and overseeing Mueller’s probe.
Porter later told prosecutors he never delivered the message because he was uncomfortable.
“I never said to fire Mueller. I never said ‘fire.’ This story doesn’t look good. You need to correct this. You’re the White House counsel.” – Trump, complaining to McGahn about a New York Times story revealing that Trump asked McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn declined to do so, saying the story was accurate.
“What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.” – Trump, asking McGahn why he takes notes during meetings.
McGahn told Trump he does so because he is a “real lawyer” and note-taking is good and creates a record.
“I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn,” the president said. “He did not take notes.”
(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Susan Cornwell and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Trott)
U.S. Attorney General William Barr, flanked by Edward O’Callaghan, Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General (L) and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, speaks at a news conference to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
April 18, 2019
(Advisory: Story includes language that might offend some readers.)
By Sarah N. Lynch and Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election described in extensive and sometimes unflattering detail a series of actions by President Donald Trump to impede the probe, raising questions about whether he committed the crime of obstruction of justice.
Thursday’s release of the 448-page report after a 22-month investigation was a watershed moment in Trump’s tumultuous presidency and inflamed partisan passions ahead of his 2020 re-election bid in a deeply divided country.
Democrats said the report contained disturbing evidence of wrongdoing by Trump that could fuel congressional investigations, but there was no immediate indication they would try to remove him from office through impeachment.
Mueller built an extensive case indicating that Trump had committed obstruction of justice but stopped short of concluding he had committed a crime, though the special counsel did not exonerate the president. Mueller noted, however, that Congress has the power to address whether Trump violated the law.
(Graphic: Redactions in the Mueller report – https://tmsnrt.rs/2DnjTvk)
“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,” the report stated.
Mueller, a former FBI director, also unearthed “numerous links” between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign, but concluded there was not enough evidence to establish that the campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow in its election meddling.
The report, with some portions blacked out to protect sensitive information, provided fresh details of how the Republican president tried to force Mueller’s ouster, directed members of his administration to publicly vouch for his innocence and dangled a pardon to a former aide to try to prevent him from cooperating with the special counsel.
The report noted that some Trump aides did not carry out some of Trump’s demands, including the one to fire Mueller.
The report stated that when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Trump in May 2017 that a special counsel was being appointed by the Justice Department to look into allegations that the Republican’s campaign colluded with Russia, Trump slumped back in his chair and said, “Oh my god. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”
Trump appeared to be in a celebratory mood on Thursday, saying at a White House event with wounded U.S. troops that he was “having a good day” following the report’s release, adding, “It’s called no collusion, no obstruction.” Trump, whose legal team called the report “a total victory” for the president, has long described Mueller’s inquiry as a “witch hunt.”
After receiving a confidential copy of Mueller’s report in March, Attorney General William Barr made his own conclusion for the Justice Department that Trump had not committed obstruction of justice. But he told a news conference on Thursday that Mueller had detailed “10 episodes involving the president and discusses potential legal theories for connecting these actions to elements of an obstruction offense.”
Mueller’s report said that Trump was wary of FBI scrutiny of his campaign and him personally. “The evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the president personally that the president could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns,” the report stated.
Any impeachment effort would start in the Democratic-led House of Representatives, but Trump’s removal would require the support of the Republican-led Senate – an unlikely outcome. Many Democrats steered clear of threatening impeachment on Thursday, although a prominent liberal congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, directly brought it up.
The House, when it voted to impeach President Bill Clinton in 1998, included obstruction of justice as one of the charges. The Senate ultimately decided not to remove Clinton from office.
The Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, said he would issue subpoenas to obtain the unredacted Mueller report and asked Mueller to testify before the panel by May 23.
Nadler told reporters in New York that Mueller probably wrote the report with the intent of providing Congress a road map for future action, but the congressman said it was “too early” to talk about impeachment.
The inquiry laid bare what the special counsel and U.S. intelligence agencies have described as a Russian campaign of hacking and propaganda to sow discord in the United States, denigrate 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and boost Trump, the Kremlin’s preferred candidate. Russia has denied election interference.
In analyzing whether Trump obstructed justice, Mueller looked at a series of actions by Trump, including his attempts to remove Mueller and limit the scope of his probe and efforts to prevent the public from knowing about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in New York between senior campaign officials and Russians.
In June 2017, Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to tell the then-acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein that Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed, the report said. McGahn did not carry out the order.
McGahn was home on a Saturday in June 2017 when Trump called him at least twice. “You gotta do this. You gotta call Rod,” McGahn recalled the president as saying, according to the report.
It also said there was “substantial evidence” that Trump fired James Comey as FBI director in 2017 due to his “unwillingness to publicly state that the president was not personally under investigation.”
Mueller cited “some evidence” suggesting Trump knew about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s controversial calls with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office, but evidence was “inconclusive” and could not be used to establish intent to obstruct.
The report said Trump directed former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to ask Sessions to say the Russia investigation was “very unfair.”
Barr seemed to offer cover for Trump’s actions by saying the report acknowledges that “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.”
“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,” Barr said.
Mueller’s team did not issue a subpoena to force Trump to give an interview to the special counsel because it would have created a “substantial delay” at a late stage in the investigation, the report said. Trump refused a sit-down interview with Mueller’s team and eventually provided only written answers.
The report said Mueller accepted the longstanding Justice Department view that a sitting president cannot be indicted on criminal charges, while still recognizing that a president can be criminally investigated.
Mueller said evidence he collected indicates that Trump intended to encourage his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, not to cooperate with the investigation and that the evidence supports the idea that Trump wanted Manafort to believe that he could receive a presidential pardon.
The report said the special counsel’s team determined there was a “reasonable argument” that the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., violated campaign finance laws, but did not believe they could obtain a conviction.
The report also cited Trump’s repeated efforts to convince Sessions to resume oversight of the probe after he had recused himself because of his own prior contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
Barr, a Trump appointee, said he gave the president’s legal team an advance look at the report. Barr was blasted by Democrats for giving this “sneak peek” to the president’s team and for giving a news conference before the report was released trying to shape the narrative in favor of Trump.
“His press conference was a stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda,” Senator Kamala Harris, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Andy Sullivan; Additional reporting by David Morgan, Doina Chiacu, davuid Alexander, Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, Amanda Becker, Jan Wolfe, Nathan Layne, Karen Freifeld and Makini Brice; Writing by Will Dunham, Editing by Alistair Bell)
The Mueller Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election is pictured in New York, New York, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
April 18, 2019
(Reuters) – There are several aspects of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election campaign that were not previously known until the release of his report on Thursday.
TRUMP’S REACTION TO APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COUNSEL
U.S. President Donald Trump believed the appointment of a special counsel to take over an active federal investigation would spell the end of his presidency, according to Mueller’s report.
When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Trump of Mueller’s appointment on May 17, 2017, the report said, Trump slumped back in his chair and said: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.”
Trump asked Sessions, whom he had berated for months for recusing himself from the investigation of Russian interference in the election: “How could you let this happen, Jeff?” and told Sessions he had let him down.
Trump told Sessions he should resign, and Sessions agreed to do so. When Sessions delivered his resignation letter to Trump the following day, Trump put the letter in his pocket but said he wanted Sessions to stay on the job.
That alarmed chief of staff Reince Priebus and senior advisor Steve Bannon, who worried Trump would use the letter to control the Department of Justice, and they tried to return it to Sessions.
Trump took the letter with him on a trip to the Middle East, where he showed it to several senior advisers and asked them what he should do about it. On May 30, he finally returned the letter to Sessions with a note saying: “Not accepted.”
THE PRESIDENTIAL INTERVIEW THAT WASN’T
Mueller tried for more than a year to interview Trump, but in the end Trump refused. Trump provided written answers on some Russia-related topics, but did not agree to answer questions about possible obstruction of justice or events that took place during the presidential transition.
Mueller said he thought he had the legal authority to order Trump to testify before a grand jury, but he decided not to take that course because of the “substantial delay that such an investigative step would likely produce at a late stage in our investigation.”
TRUMP’S EFFORTS TO FIRE MUELLER
Trump tried to get Mueller fired in June 2017, shortly after he was appointed, according to the 448-page report. Trump called then-White House counsel Don McGahn twice and directed him to order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller on the grounds that he had conflicts of interest.
McGahn felt “trapped,” but did not carry out the order, deciding that he would rather resign, Mueller said.
Other White House advisers later talked McGahn out of resigning, and Trump did not follow up to ask whether McGahn had fulfilled his directive.
Trump pressured McGahn to deny that these events took place when they surfaced in news accounts in January 2018, but McGahn refused, according to Mueller’s report, some of which was blacked out to protect some sensitive information.
TRUMP’S EFFORTS TO LIMIT THE INVESTIGATION
Trump also enlisted his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowksi, to try to narrow the investigation’s scope. The report said Trump asked Lewandowski in June 2017 to tell Sessions that he should publicly announce that the Russia probe was “very unfair” to the president, say Trump had done nothing wrong, and limit Mueller’s probe into interference in future elections, not the one that had put him in the White House.
A month later, Trump asked Lewandowski about the status of his request and Lewandowski assured Trump he would deliver the message soon. Trump then publicly criticized Sessions in a New York Times interview and a series of Twitter messages.
Mueller says Lewandowski did not want to deliver the message to Sessions, so he asked senior White House official Rick Dearborn to speak to him. Dearborn also did not want to carry out the task. Ultimately, the message never reached Sessions.
MANAFORT’S EFFORTS TO MONETIZE THE CAMPAIGN
Mueller found that campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s efforts to work with his former business partners in Ukraine were greater than previously known, as he tried to use his insider status on the campaign to collect on debts owed for his past work by Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Shortly after he joined the campaign in the spring of 2016, Manafort directed his deputy Rick Gates to share internal polling data and other campaign materials with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former Ukrainian business partner, with the understanding that it would get passed on to Deripaska, the report said.
During an August 2016 meeting in New York, Manafort told Kilimnik about the campaign’s efforts to win the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the report said. Trump ended up winning three of those states in the November election.
Manafort worked with his Ukrainian allies until the spring of 2018, after he had been indicted by Mueller, to promote a peace plan that would have split the country in two. These efforts did not constitute coordination between the campaign and Russian efforts to disrupt the election, Mueller found.
Manafort urged Gates not to plead guilty after they were both indicted by Mueller, apparently believing that they would be pardoned by the president if they did not cooperate with investigators. Trump’s numerous sympathetic statements before and during Manafort’s criminal trial could be interpreted as an effort to sway the outcome, but they also could be interpreted as a sign that he genuinely felt sorry for Manafort, Mueller said.
PLAN FOR U.S.-RUSSIA RECONCILIATION
Relations between Washington and Moscow had deteriorated under two previous administrations and the United States had imposed sanctions on Russia. Following Trump’s election victory, Russian financier Kirill Dmitriev worked on a proposal to improve ties with Rick Gerson, a hedge fund manager who is friends with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Dmitriev runs Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and reports directly to Putin.
Gerson gave the plan to Kushner before Trump was sworn in, Mueller’s report said, and Kushner gave copies to Bannon and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
After Trump took office in January 2017, Dmitriev told Gerson that his “boss” – an apparent reference to Putin – wanted to know if there was a reaction to the proposal, which called for cooperation on terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and economic matters. When Putin and Trump spoke by phone, Dmitriev told Gerson that their plan had “played an important role.”
Gerson told Mueller’s team that he acted as an intermediary between Trump and Russia on his own initiative, not at the request of Trump’s aides.
(Compiled by Andy Sullivan; editing by Grant McCool)
The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday released a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his nearly two-year investigation into whether President Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia or attempted to obstruct probes.
The following are some key quotes from Mueller’s 448-page report:
- “When (former Attorney General Jeff) 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—–d.'”
- “The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
- “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
- “The Russian contacts (with Trump’s campaign) consisted of business connections, offers of assistance to the Campaign, invitations for candidate Trump and Putin to meet in person, invitations for Campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government to meet, and policy positions seeking improved U.S.-Russian relations.”
- “The evidence supports the inference that the President intended (former campaign Chairman Paul) Manafort to believe that he could receive a pardon, which would make cooperation with the government as a means of obtaining a lesser sentence unnecessary.”
Source: NewsMax Politics