Mueller report: 10 instances of possible obstruction

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Mueller report: 10 instances of possible obstruction


U.S. President Donald Trump reacts as he speaks at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride event after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts as he speaks at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride event after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election identified 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Mr Mueller said in his report that he could not conclusively determine that Mr Trump had committed a crime, or that he had not.

Here is a look at the 10 instances:

– Pressure on Comey to end probe of Michael Flynn

This includes the president’s statement to then-FBI director James Comey regarding the investigation into then-national security adviser Michael Flynn.

President Trump told Mr Comey: “I hope you can see your way to letting this go.”

– President’s reaction to the continuing Russia investigation

Among the evidence is the president telling then-White House counsel Don McGahn to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation and President Trump’s subsequent anger at Mr Sessions.

President Trump also contacted Mr Comey and other intelligence agency leaders to ask them to push back publicly on the suggestion that the president had any connection to the Russian election-interference effort.

– Firing of Comey and aftermath

Mr Mueller’s report says “substantial evidence” indicates President Trump’s decision to fire Mr Comey in May 2017 was the result of the FBI director’s unwillingness to say publicly that Mr Trump was not personally under investigation.

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On the day after Mr Trump fired Mr Comey, the president told Russian officials that he had “faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off”.

– Appointment of special counsel and efforts to remove him

President Trump reacted to news of Mr Mueller’s appointment by telling advisers that it was “the end of his presidency”.

The president told aides that Mr Mueller had conflicts of interest and should have to step aside. His aides told President Trump the asserted conflicts were meritless.

Following media reports that Mr Mueller’s team was investigating whether the president had obstructed justice, President Trump called then-White House counsel Don McGahn at home and directed him to have Mr Mueller removed. Mr McGahn refused.

– Further efforts to curtail the special counsel’s investigation

President Trump instructed former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to have Mr Sessions publicly announce that, notwithstanding his recusal from the Russia investigation, the investigation was “very unfair” to the president, the president had done nothing wrong, and Mr Sessions planned to meet with Mr Mueller to limit him to “investigating election meddling for future elections”.

– Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence

In summer of 2017, President Trump learned that the news media planned to report on the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign officials and Russians offering derogatory information about Hillary Clinton.

The president directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails setting up the meeting. Before the emails became public, the president also edited a press statement for Donald 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”.

– Additional efforts to have Sessions take control of investigation

At several points in between July 2017 and December 2017, President Trump tried to get Mr Sessions to declare that he was no longer recused from the Russia investigation and would assert control over it.

The report says there is evidence that one purpose of asking Mr Sessions to step in was so that the attorney general would restrict the investigation’s scope.

– Trump orders White House counsel to deny the President tried to fire Mueller

In an Oval Office meeting in February 2018, President Trump told Mr McGahn to “correct” a New York Times story that reported the president had earlier instructed Mr McGahn to fire Mr Mueller.

President Trump also asked why Mr McGahn had told Mr Mueller’s investigators about the directive to remove Mr Mueller. Mr McGahn told President Trump he had to tell the investigators the truth.

– Trump’s actions towards Flynn, Manafort and other possible witnesses

Mr Mueller looked at whether President Trump’s sympathetic messages to Mr Flynn, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and others were intended to limit their cooperation with Mr Mueller’s investigation.

When Mr Flynn began cooperating with prosecutors, President Trump passed word through his lawyer that he still had warm feeling for Mr Flynn and asked for a “heads up” if Mr Flynn knew of information implicating the president.

President Trump praised Mr Manafort during and after his criminal convictions, and refused to rule out a pardon for his former campaign chairman.

– Trump actions towards Michael Cohen

Mr Mueller noted that President Trump’s conduct toward Mr Cohen, a former Trump Organisation executive, changed from praise to castigation after Mr Cohen began cooperating with prosecutors.

The evidence could “support an inference that the president used inducements in the form of positive messages in an effort to get Mr Cohen not to cooperate, and then turned to attacks and intimidation to deter” cooperation and undermine Mr Cohen’s credibility, Mr Mueller wrote.

Press Association

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