(Reuters) - U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller found numerous instances of possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump during his investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The following are the occurrences (some details were redacted from the report):
- The Trump campaign's response to reports of Russia's support for Trump:
After WikiLeaks released politically damaging Democratic Party emails that reportedly were hacked by Russia, "Trump publicly expressed scepticism that Russia was responsible for the hacks at the same time that he and other Campaign officials privately sought information ... about any further planned WikiLeaks releases."
- Conduct involving FBI Director James Comey and national security adviser Michael Flynn:
Following the firing of Flynn, Trump demanded a one-on-one meeting with Comey in the White House Oval Office.
Referring to an FBI investigation of Flynn, Trump said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy."
Trump also sought to have K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser, draft an internal letter stating that he had not directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with a senior Russian diplomat, Sergey Kislyak.
"McFarland declined because she did not know whether that was true, and a White House Counsel's Office attorney thought that the request would look like a quid pro quo for an ambassadorship she had been offered," according to the Mueller report.
- Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation:
In early March 2017, Trump instructed White House Counsel Donald McGahn to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation. After Sessions recused himself, Trump "expressed anger at the decision and told advisors that he should have an Attorney General who would protect him," the report said. Trump later urged Sessions to "unrecuse."
Trump also called Comey, who as FBI director was leading the Russia investigation, and urged him to "lift the cloud" over his presidency by publicly saying that Trump personally was not being investigated at the time.
- Trump's firing of Comey:
Shortly after Comey, in testimony to Congress, declined to answer questions about whether Trump personally was under investigation, the president fired him.
"The day after firing Comey, the President told Russian officials that he had 'faced great pressure because of Russia,' which had been 'taken off' by Comey's firing."
- The appointment of a special counsel and efforts to remove him:
Trump told aides that Mueller had conflicts of interest "and suggested that the Special Counsel therefore could not serve. The President's advisors told him the asserted conflicts were meritless and had already been considered by the Department of Justice."
Following media reports that Mueller was investigating Trump, the president wrote a series of tweets criticizing the investigation. He also urged Mueller be fired, the report stated.
- Efforts to curtail the special counsel’s investigation:
On June 19, 2017, Trump met with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and dictated a message for him to deliver to Sessions, saying Sessions should announce publicly that the investigation was “very unfair” to the president and that the president had done nothing wrong.
Lewandowski told Trump he would do so but he asked senior White House official Rick Dearborn to do it but Dearborn did not follow through. Meanwhile, Trump issued a series of tweets making it clear Sessions’ job was in jeopardy.
- Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence:
In the summer of 2017, Trump learned the media was asking questions about the June 9, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign senior campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was said to be offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton. He directed aides to not publicly disclose the emails setting up the meeting, the report said.
"Before the emails became public, the President edited a press statement for Trump Jr. by deleting a line that acknowledged that the meeting was with ‘an individual who [Trump Jr.] was told might have information helpful to the campaign’ and instead said only that the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children."
- Further efforts to have Sessions take control of the investigation:
"In early summer 2017, the President called Sessions at home and again asked him to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions did not," the report said.
In October 2017, the President met privately with Sessions in the Oval Office and asked him to “take [a] look” at investigating Clinton, it said. In December 2017, Trump again met Sessions and suggested, that if Sessions unrecused and took back supervision of the Russia investigation, he would be a “hero.”
"The President told Sessions, “I’m not going to do anything or direct you to do anything. I just want to be treated fairly.” In response, Sessions volunteered that he had never seen anything “improper” on the campaign and he did not unrecuse, the report said.
- Efforts to have McGahn deny that Trump had ordered him to have the special counsel removed:
"In early 2018, the press reported that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed in June 2017 and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order.
"The President reacted to the news stories by directing White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed," the report said. But McGahn told those officials that the media reports were accurate.
Trump met with McGahn and pressured him to deny the reports but "McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the President to be testing his mettle," the report said.
- Conduct toward Flynn, ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort, (redacted):
"After Flynn withdrew from a joint defence agreement with the President and began cooperating with the government, the President’s personal counsel left a message for Flynn’s attorneys reminding them of the President’s warm feelings
towards Flynn, which he said 'still remains,' and asking for a 'heads up' if Flynn knew 'information that implicates the President,'" the report said.
When Flynn’s counsel said Flynn could no longer share information, the President’s personal counsel said he would make sure that Trump knew that Flynn’s actions reflected “hostility” toward the president, it said.
During Manafort’s prosecution, the President praised Manafort publicly and declined to rule out a pardon. After Manafort was convicted, the President called Manafort “a brave man” for refusing to “break” and said that “flipping” “almost ought to be outlawed," the report said.
- Conduct involving Michael Cohen:
"The President’s conduct towards Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organisation executive, changed from praise for Cohen when he falsely minimized the President’s involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project, to castigation of Cohen when he became a cooperating witness," the report said.
Cohen had pursued the Trump Tower project on behalf of the Trump organisation from September 2015 to June 2016, and briefed then-candidate Trump on the project numerous times, including discussing whether Trump should travel to Russia to advance the deal, it said.
After the FBI searched Cohen’s home and office in April 2018, the President contacted him directly to tell him to “stay strong,” the report said. Cohen also discussed pardons with the President’s personal counsel. "But after Cohen began cooperating with the government in the summer of 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a “rat,” and suggested that his family members had committed crimes," the report said.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Bill Trott)
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Updated Date: Apr 19, 2019 02:07:18 IST