US President Donald Trump tried to get the man appointed to investigate his links to Russia fired, a long-awaited report has revealed. The 448 page redacted document, collated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was finally released on Thursday. Mr Trump’s legal team has described the report as a “total victory”. But the country’s top lawyer, William Barr, is facing heavy criticism of his handling of the report’s release. Senior Democrats have accused the attorney general of “misleading” them with an earlier summary of the report’s findings regarding whether Mr Trump obstructed justice. The mammoth document is the product of a 22-month investigation by Mr Mueller – who was appointed to probe Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
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. Trump was largely thwarted by those around him who refused to go along. Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed others 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. The report’s bottom line largely tracked the findings revealed in Attorney General William Barr’s four-page memo released a month ago no collusion with Russia but no clear verdict on obstruction but it added new layers of detail about Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation. Looking ahead, both sides were already using the findings to amplify well-rehearsed arguments about Trump’s conduct, Republicans casting him as a victim of harassment and Democrats depicting the president as stepping far over the line to derail the investigation. The Justice Department released its redacted version of the report about 90 minutes after Barr offered his own final assessment of the findings at a testy news conference. The nation, Congress and Trump’s White House consumed it voraciously online, via a compact disc delivered to legislators and in loose-leaf binders distributed to reporters.
‘Lawyers don’t take notes’
The report describes Mr Trump scolding White House counsel Donald McGahn for taking notes in meetings with the special counsel’s office investigators.”The President then asked, ‘What-about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.’ McGahn responded that he keeps notes because he is a ‘real lawyer’ and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing,” it states. The president is then quoted as saying “I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes.” Roy Cohn assisted Senator Joseph McCarthy’s attempts to expose US communists in the 1950s before going on to work for Mr Trump as he launched his business career.
Top legal official always carried a resignation letter
The report offers insight into the strained relationship between Mr Trump and his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The president criticised Mr Sessions both privately and publicly, and called upon him to regain control of the investigation. The friction between the two reached a point where Mr Sessions was ready to quit at a moment’s notice, the report says. “In light of the President’s frequent public attacks, Sessions prepared another resignation letter and for the rest of the year carried it with him in his pocket every time he went to the White House,” the report says.