Washington, April 19
Donald Trump’s first reaction to Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was “this is the end of my Presidency” and the US President was so furious that he reacted with an expletive, according to the counsel’s report.
In a major relief to President Trump, the nearly two-year probe by Mueller found “no evidence” of a “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 US elections, Attorney General William Barr announced on Thursday.
Barr said the redacted report released on Thursday made it clear that the Russian government sought to interfere in American elections, “but thanks to the special counsel’s thorough investigation, we now know that the Russian operatives who perpetrated these schemes did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign”.
Trump first learned that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a meeting to interview candidates for the FBI director in May 2017, the report said.
Also present were Sessions’ chief of staff Jody Hunt and then-White House counsel Don McGahn, the CNN reported.
After Sessions delivered the news, “the President slumped back in his chair”, the report said, citing notes from Hunt.
“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f****d,” Trump said, according to the report.
Trump became “angry and lambasted” Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, it said.
“How could you let this happen, Jeff?” Trump asked his attorney general.
Trump told Sessions, “‘you were supposed to protect me’, or words to that effect,” Sessions recalled, the Mueller report stated.
“Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels, it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Trump said, according to the report.
He then told Sessions he should resign, the report said.
Sessions agreed, left the Oval Office, and the next day returned to the White House to hand Trump his resignation letter, it said.
Trump tucked Sessions’ resignation letter in his pocket, but then proceeded to ask Sessions multiple times if he wanted to remain attorney general, the report found.
Sessions said he wished to remain attorney general, but said it was up to Trump, the report said.
Sessions would continue serving as attorney general for another year, but was ousted in November 2018 by Trump, who remained upset over his decision to step away from the Russia probe, the CNN repot said.
Mueller was appointed following the firing of FBI Director James Comey to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential collusion between Trump’s campaign associates and Russian officials. Mueller’s team also investigated whether Trump obstructed justice.
The probe could not clear Trump, saying it was unable to determine “that no criminal conduct occurred”.
Earlier on Thursday, President Trump said the Mueller probe was “Greatest Political Hoax of all time!” “Crimes were committed by Crooked, Dirty Cops and DNC/The Democrats,” tweeted Trump, who refers Clinton as “Crooked”.
Meanwhile, Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler said he had sent a letter to Mueller--requiring his testimony before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee by May 23.
“We cannot take Attorney General Barr’s word for it. We must read the full Mueller report, and the underlying evidence,” Nadler said. PTI
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