Trump blasts ex-advisers who say he tried to stop Mueller
WASHINGTON (AP) — A day after celebrating the release of the Mueller report as "a good day," President Donald Trump struck a defiant tone Friday, unleashing tweets saying claims in the report by former administration officials that he tried numerous times to stop or influence the probe were "total bullshit."
According to the 448-page report released Thursday , Trump discouraged witnesses from cooperating with prosecutors and prodded aides to mislead the public on his behalf to hamper the Russia probe he feared would cripple his administration.
The report's bottom line largely tracked the findings revealed in Attorney General William Barr's four-page memo a month ago — no Trump campaign collusion with Russia around the 2016 election, but no clear verdict on obstruction. But the report added new layers of detail about Trump's efforts to thwart the investigation.
Tweeting on a rainy Friday from his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump lashed out at people who cooperated with Mueller's team. He said statements in the report made by some were "fabricated & totally untrue." He alleged that "notes" some people said they took after meetings didn't exist but were created for the Mueller investigation.
"I never agreed to testify, it was not necessary for me to respond to statements made in the 'Report' about me, some of which are total bullshit & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad)," Trump tweeted. "This was an Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened."
On Thursday, Trump had termed the Mueller report release "a good day" for him, adding that "It was called no collusion, no obstruction."
Mueller wrote in the two-volume redacted report that Trump's attempts to seize control of the investigation and direct others on how to influence it "were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."
In one particularly dramatic moment, Mueller reported that Trump was so agitated at the special counsel's appointment on May 17, 2017, that he slumped back in his chair and declared: "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f---ed."
With that, Trump set out to save himself.
In June of that year, Mueller wrote, Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the probe, and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest. McGahn refused — deciding he would sooner resign than trigger a potential crisis akin to the Saturday Night Massacre of firings during the Watergate era.
Two days later, Trump met with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and dictated a message for him to relay to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The message: Sessions would publicly call the investigation "very unfair" to the president, declare Trump did nothing wrong and say Mueller should limit his probe to "investigating election meddling for future elections." The message was never delivered.
Looking ahead, both sides were are 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.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to the Justice Department requesting that Mueller himself testify before his panel "no later than May 23." And the New York Democrat issued a subpoena for Mueller's complete report as well as underlying documents, including grand jury evidence, which was redacted. Grand jury evidence, including witness interviews, is normally off limits but can be obtained in court.