Special Counsel Robert Mueller has uncovered evidence that President Trump tried to obstruct justice in the Justice Department’s Russia probe, according to a New York Times report. And it all has to do with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from all matters related to Russia, which the NY Times already indicated (in a previous report) led Trump to pressure the AG to resign during an Oval Office lecture because he was so furious about Mueller’s appointment.
Now, the NY Times reports, via two sources with knowledge of the incident (and Mueller’s awareness of it), that Trump “gave firm instructions” to White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II, to pressure Sessions not to cave into public pressure to step away from the Russia probe. As everyone knows by now, Sessions went ahead and merrily recused himself. Here’s more:
Mr. McGahn was unsuccessful, and the president erupted in anger in front of numerous White House officials, saying he needed his attorney general to protect him. Mr. Trump said he had expected his top law enforcement official to safeguard him the way he believed Robert F. Kennedy, as attorney general, had done for his brother John F. Kennedy and Eric H. Holder Jr. had for Barack Obama.
In addition, the publication reports that Mueller has uncovered “handwritten notes” from ex-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who apparently documented how Trump told him that he’d called ex-FBI Director James Comey to publicly declare that he wasn’t being investigated by the Justice Department. These notes would function as more corroboration of Comey’s assertion of the matter in his Senate testimony, and the NY Times also reports that Trump tried to discredit Comey by digging for “damaging information”:
The New York Times has also learned that four days before Mr. Comey was fired, one of Mr. Sessions’s aides asked a congressional staff member whether he had damaging information about Mr. Comey, part of an apparent effort to undermine the F.B.I. director. It was not clear whether Mr. Mueller’s investigators knew about this episode.
Of course, Comey also previously told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump pressured him not to investigate Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia (which may have also been obstruction of justice, although Comey didn’t use the term). It sure looks like Mueller is racking up evidence that Trump tried to influence and/or shut down the Russia probe, bigly.
(Via New York Times)