Mueller on Trump: Everything the Special Counsel’s Report Says the President Did, Said or Knew

Hadley Baker, Mikhaila Fogel
Monday, July 22, 2019, 1:26 PM

Robert Mueller is testifying before Congress on Wednesday, and members will no doubt ask him repeatedly for his views and findings about President Trump. Mueller has made clear that he has no intention of going beyond what he said in the report itself, which he called “his testimony.” He will likely be firmest on this point with respect to the sensitive issue of presidential conduct.

President Donald J. Trump, the White House, July 15, 2019 (Source: Flickr/Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Robert Mueller is testifying before Congress on Wednesday, and members will no doubt ask him repeatedly for his views and findings about President Trump. Mueller has made clear that he has no intention of going beyond what he said in the report itself, which he called “his testimony.” He will likely be firmest on this point with respect to the sensitive issue of presidential conduct.

So for those who want to figure out what Mueller has said about Trump, here is a list: all of Trump’s actions as detailed in the Mueller report.

This list includes everything Trump said or did, actions others recall him taking, and recollections of when Trump was informed of events and facts relevant to the investigation. In other words, it’s an account of everything the president did, said or knew, according to the Mueller report.

Each of the following section headers and excerpts is presented verbatim and sequentially as they appear in the report. We have included responses to or circumstances surrounding the president’s actions only to the extent that they provide necessary context. This list does include the president’s written responses to Mueller’s questions, which are included in Appendix C of the report. Redactions that appear in the original report are identified through bracketed text (“[ ]”) describing the stated basis for the redaction.

Volume I

Executive Summary to Volume I

  • “Beginning in June 2016, [redacted: harm to ongoing matter] forecast to senior Campaign officials that WikiLeaks would release information damaging to Clinton. WikiLeaks’s first release came in July 2016. Around the same time, candidate Trump announced that he hoped Russia would recover emails described as missing from a private server used by Clinton when she was Secretary of State (he later said that he was speaking sarcastically).” [Vol. 1, p. 5]
  • “Candidate Trump signed a Letter of Intent for Trump Tower Moscow by November 2015…” [Vol. 1, p. 5]
  • “The Russian Embassy made contact hours after the election to congratulate the President-Elect and to arrange a call with President Putin.” [Vol. 1, p. 7]
  • “...Putin announced that Russia would not take retaliatory measures in response to sanctions at that time. Hours later, President-Elect Trump tweeted, ‘Great move on delay (by V. Putin).’” [Vol. 1, p. 7]
  • “On January 6, 2017, members of the intelligence community briefed President-Elect Trump on a joint assessment—drafted and coordinated among the Central Intelligence Agency, FBI, and National Security Agency—that concluded with high confidence that Russia had intervened in the election through a variety of means to assist Trump’s candidacy and harm Clinton’s.” [Vol. 1, p. 7-8]
  • “The investigation [to which Comey referred in his March 7th testimony before HPSCI] continued under then-Director Comey for the next seven weeks until May 9, 2017, when President Trump fired Comey as FBI Director…” [Vol. 1, p. 8]
  • “President Trump reacted negatively to the Special Counsel's appointment. He told advisors that it was the end of his presidency, sought to have Attorney General Jefferson (Jeff) Sessions unrecuse from the Russia investigation and to have the Special Counsel removed, and engaged in efforts to curtail the Special Counsel's investigation and prevent the disclosure of evidence to it, including through public and private contacts with potential witnesses. Those and related actions are described and analyzed in Volume II of the report.” [Vol. 1, p. 8]


III. Russian Hacking and Dumping Operation

  • “On July 27 Unit 26165 targeted email accounts connected to candidate Clinton's personal office [redacted: personal privacy]. Earlier that day, candidate Trump made public statements that included the following: ‘Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’” [Vol. 1, p. 49]
  • “In debriefings with the Office, former deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates said that [redacted: harm to ongoing matter] Gates recalled candidate Trump being generally frustrated that the Clinton emails had not been found.” [Vol. 1, p. 52]
  • “Cohen further told the Office that, after WikiLeak’s subsequent release of stolen DNC emails in July 2016, candidate Trump said to Cohen something to the effect of, [redacted: harm to ongoing matter].” [Vol. ,. p. 53]
  • “According to Gates, by the late summer of 2016, the Trump Campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications campaign, and messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks. [redacted: harm to ongoing matter] while Trump and Gates were driving to LaGuardia Airport. [redacted: harm to ongoing matter], shortly after the call candidate Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming.” [Vol. 1, p. 54]
  • “After candidate Trump stated on July 27, 2016, that he hoped Russia would ‘find the 30,000 emails that are missing,’ Trump asked individuals affiliated with his Campaign to find the deleted Clinton emails. Michael Flynn—who would later serve as National Security Advisor in the Trump Administration—recalled that Trump made this request repeatedly…” [Vol. 1, p. 62]

IV. Russian Government Links to and Contacts With The Trump Campaign

  • “Between 2013 and June 2016, several employees of the Trump Organization, including then-president of the organization Donald J. Trump, pursued a Moscow deal with several Russian counterparties. From the fall of 2015 until the middle of 2016, Michael Cohen spearheaded the Trump Organization's pursuit of a Trump Tower Moscow project, including by reporting on the project's status to candidate Trump and other executives in the Trump Organization.” [Vol. 1, p. 67]
  • “In December 2013, Kaveladze and Trump Jr. negotiated and signed preliminary terms of an agreement for the Trump Tower Moscow project. On December 23, 2013, after discussions with Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization agreed to accept an arrangement whereby the organization received a flat 3.5% commission on all sales, with no licensing fees or incentives. The parties negotiated a letter of intent during January and February 2014.” [Vol. 1, p. 67-68]
  • “The LOI [letter of intent], signed by Trump for the Trump Organization and Rozov on behalf of I.C. Expert, was ‘intended to facilitate further discussions’ in order to ‘attempt to enter into a mutually acceptable agreement’ related to the Trump-branded project in Moscow.” [Vol. 1, p. 70]
  • “Cohen recalled conversations with Trump in which the candidate suggested that his campaign would be a significant ‘infomercial’ for Trump-branded properties.” [Vol. 1, p. 72]
  • “First, in interviews with the Office, Cohen stated that he discussed the subject of traveling to Russia with Trump twice: once in late 2015; and again in spring 2016. According to Cohen, Trump indicated a willingness to travel if it would assist the project significantly. On one occasion, Trump told Cohen to speak with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to coordinate the candidate's schedule.” [Vol. 1, p. 78]
  • “Second, like Cohen, Trump received and turned down an invitation to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. In late December 2015, Mira Duma—a contact of Ivanka Trump's from the fashion industry—first passed along invitations for Ivanka Trump and candidate Trump from Sergei Prikhodko, a Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. On January 14, 2016, Rhona Graff sent an email to Duma stating that Trump was ‘honored to be asked to participate in the highly prestigious’ Forum event, but that he would “have to decline” the invitation given his ‘very grueling and full travel schedule” as a presidential candidate.’” [Vol. 1, p. 78]
  • “According to written answers from President Trump, Graff received an email from Deputy Prime Minister Prikhodko on March 17, 2016, again inviting Trump to participate in the 2016 Forum in St. Petersburg. Two weeks later, on March 31, 2016, Graff prepared for Trump's signature a two-paragraph letter declining the invitation.3 The letter stated that Trump's ‘schedule has become extremely demanding’ because of the presidential campaign, that he ‘already ha[d] several commitments in the United States’ for the time of the Forum, but that he otherwise ‘would have gladly given every consideration to attending such an important event.’ Graff forwarded the letter to another executive assistant at the Trump Organization with instructions to print the document on letterhead for Trump to sign.” [Vol. 1, p. 79]
  • “On March 17, 2016, Papadopoulos returned to London. Four days later, candidate Trump publicly named him as a member of the foreign policy and national security advisory team chaired by Senator Jeff Sessions, describing Papadopoulos as ‘an oil and energy consultant’ and an ‘[e]xcellent guy.’” [Vol. 1, p. 84]
  • “The Campaign held a meeting of the foreign policy advisory team with Senator Sessions and candidate Trump approximately one week later, on March 31, 2016, in Washington, D.C...Papadopoulos flew to Washington for the event. At the meeting, Senator Sessions sat at one end of an oval table, while Trump sat at the other…

During the meeting, each of the newly announced foreign policy advisors introduced themselves and briefly described their areas of experience or expertise. Papadopoulos spoke about his previous work in the energy sector and then brought up a potential meeting with Russian officials. Specifically, Papadopoulos told the group that he had learned through his contacts in London that Putin wanted to meet with candidate Trump and that these connections could help arrange that meeting.

Trump and Sessions both reacted to Papadopoulos's statement. Papadopoulos and Campaign advisor J.D. Gordon—who told investigators in an interview that he had a ‘crystal clear’ recollection of the meeting—have stated that Trump was interested in and receptive to the idea of a meeting with Putin.” [Vol. 1., p. 85-86]

  • “On March 21 , 2016, candidate Trump formally and publicly identified Page as a member of his foreign policy team to advise on Russia and the energy sector.” [Vol. 1, p. 98]
  • “Sessions first stood next to Trump to introduce him to the members of Congress who were in attendance. After those members had been introduced, Simes stood next to Trump and introduced him to the CNI invitees in attendance, including Kislyak. Simes perceived the introduction to be positive and friendly, but thought it clear that Kislyak and Trump had just met for the first time.” [Vol. 1, p. 106]
  • “Saunders recalled, based in part on a food-related request he received from a Campaign staff member, that Trump left the hotel a few minutes after the speech to go to the airport.” [Vol. 1, p. 107]
  • “According to written answers submitted by President Trump, he has no recollection of learning of the [June 9, 2016, Trump Tower] meeting at the time, and the Office found no documentary evidence showing that he was made aware of the meeting—or its Russian connection—before it occurred.” [Vol. 1, p. 110]
  • “Aras Agalarov is the president of the Crocus Group, a Russian enterprise that holds substantial Russian government construction contracts and that...worked with Trump in connection with the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and a potential Trump Moscow real-estate project. The relationship continued over time, as the parties pursued the Trump Moscow project in 2013-2014 and exchanged gifts and letters in 2016. For example, in April 2016, Trump responded to a letter from Aras Agalarov with a handwritten note. Aras Agalarov expressed interest in Trump's campaign, passed on ‘congratulations’ for winning in the primary and-according to one email drafted by Goldstone-an ‘offer’ of his ‘support and that of many of his important Russian friends and colleagues[,] especially with reference to U.S./Russian relations.’” [Vol. 1, p. 112-111]
  • “Michael Cohen recalled being in Donald J. Trump's office on June 6 or 7 when Trump Jr. told his father that a meeting to obtain adverse information about Clinton was going forward. Cohen did not recall Trump Jr. stating that the meeting was connected to Russia… In an interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, Trump Jr. stated that he did not inform his father about the emails or the upcoming meeting.7!! Similarly, neither Manafort nor Kushner recalled anyone informing candidate Trump of the meeting, including Trump Jr. President Trump has stated to this Office, in written answers to questions, that he has ‘no recollection of learning at the time’ that his son, Manafort, or ‘Kushner was considering participating in a meeting in June 2016 concerning potentially negative information about Hillary Clinton.’” [Vol. 1, p. 116]
  • “And according to the President's written answers to the Office's questions, he does not recall being involved in the change in language of the [Republic Party’s] platform amendment [on Ukraine].” [Vol. 1, p. 126]
  • “According to the President’s written answers, he does not remember Manafort communicating to him any particular positions that Ukraine or Russia would want the United States to support.” [Vol. 1, p. 130, footnote 841]
  • “Thomas Barrack and Roger Stone both recommended Manafort to candidate Trump. In early 2016, at Manafort's request, Barrack suggested to Trump that Manafort join the Campaign to manage the Republican Convention... Manafort met Trump in 1982 when Trump hired the Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly lobbying firm. Over the years, Manafort saw Trump at political and social events in New York City and at Stone's wedding, and Trump requested VIP status at the 1988 and 1996 Republican conventions worked by Manafort. According to Gates, in March 2016, Manafort traveled to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to meet with Trump. Trump hired him at that time.” [Vol. 1, p. 134-135]
  • “Despite his resignation, Manafort continued to offer advice to various Campaign officials through the November election. Manafort told Gates that he still spoke with Kushner, Bannon, and candidate Trump, and some of those post-resignation contacts are documented in emails.” [Vol. 1, p, 141]
  • “Trump was elected President on November 8, 2016.” [Vol. 1, p. 141]
  • “Trump was elected President on November 8, 2016.” [Vol. 1, p. 144]
  • “[O]n November 14,2016, Trump and Putin spoke by phone in the presence of Transition Team members, including incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.” [Vol. 1, p. 145]
  • “As to the sanctions, Flynn spoke by phone to K.T. McFarland, his incoming deputy, to prepare for his call to Kislyak; McFarland was with the President-Elect and other senior members of the Transition Team at Mar-a-Lago at the time.” [Vol. 1, p. 167]
  • “On December 22, 2016, multiple members of the Transition Team, as well as President-Elect Trump, communicated with foreign government officials to determine their views on the resolution and to rally support to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.” [Vol. 1, p. 168]
  • “The Transition Team and President-Elect Trump were concerned that these sanctions would harm the United States's relationship with Russia… When asked about imposing sanctions on Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, President-Elect Trump told the media, ‘I think we ought to get on with our lives.’” [Vol. 1, p. 169]
  • “McFarland sent an email to Transition Team members about the sanctions, informing the group that ‘Gen [F]lynn is talking to russian ambassador this evening.’ Less than an hour later, McFarland briefed President-Elect Trump. Bannon, Priebus, Sean Spicer, and other Transition Team members were present. During the briefing, President-Elect Trump asked McFarland if the Russians did ‘it,’ meaning the intrusions intended to influence the presidential election. McFarland said yes, and President-Elect Trump expressed doubt that it was the Russians. McFarland also discussed potential Russian responses to the sanctions, and said Russia's response would be an indicator of what the Russians wanted going forward. President-Elect Trump opined that the sanctions provided him with leverage to use with the Russians. McFarland recalled that at the end of the meeting, someone may have mentioned to President-Elect Trump that Flynn was speaking to the Russian ambassador that evening.” [Vol. 1, p. 171]
  • “The next day, December 30, 2016, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov remarked that Russia would respond in kind to the sanctions. Putin superseded that comment two hours later, releasing a statement that Russia would not take retaliatory measures in response to the sanctions at that time. Hours later President-Elect Trump tweeted, ‘Great move on delay (by V. Putin).’” [p. 172]

Volume II

Introduction to Volume II

  • “Beginning in 2017, the President of the United States took a variety of actions towards the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election and related matters that raised questions about whether he had obstructed justice.” [Vol. 2, p. 1]

Executive Summary to Volume II

  • “After WikiLeaks released politically damaging Democratic Party emails that were reported to have been hacked by Russia, Trump publicly expressed skepticism that Russia was responsible for the hacks at the same time that he and other Campaign officials privately sought information [redacted: harm to ongoing matter] about any further planned WikiLeaks releases. Trump also denied having any business in or connections to Russia, even though as late as June 2016 the Trump Organization had been pursuing a licensing deal for a skyscraper to be built in Russia called Trump Tower Moscow. After the election, the President expressed concerns to advisors that reports of Russia's election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election.” [Vol. 2, p. 3]
  • “On January 27, the day after the President was told that Flynn had lied to the Vice President and had made similar statements to the FBI, the President invited FBI Director Comey to a private dinner at the White House and told Comey that he needed loyalty. On February 14, the day after the President requested Flynn's resignation, the President told an outside advisor, ‘Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over’ ...Later that afternoon, the President cleared the Oval Office to have a one-on-one meeting with Comey. Referring to the FBI's investigation of Flynn, the President said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’ Shortly after requesting Flynn's resignation and speaking privately to Comey, the President sought to have Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland draft an internal letter stating that the President had not directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak.” [Vol. 2., p. 3]
  • “In early March, the President told White House Counsel Donald McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing. And after Sessions announced his recusal on March 2, the President expressed anger at the decision and told advisors that he should have an Attorney General who would protect him. That weekend, the President took Sessions aside at an event and urged him to ‘unrecuse.’” [Vol. 2, p. 3]
  • “[T]he President reached out to the Director of National Intelligence and the leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) to ask them what they could do to publicly dispel the suggestion that the President had any connection to the Russian election-interference effort. The President also twice called Comey directly, notwithstanding guidance from McGahn to avoid direct contacts with the Department of Justice. Comey had previously assured the President that the FBI was not investigating him personally, and the President asked Comey to ‘lift the cloud’ of the Russia investigation by saying that publicly.” [Vol. 2, p. 4]
  • “On May 3, 2017, Comey testified in a congressional hearing, but declined to answer questions about whether the President was personally under investigation. Within days, the President decided to terminate Comey. The President insisted that the termination letter, which was written for public release, state that Comey had informed the President that he was not under investigation.” [Vol. 2, p. 4]
  • “[T]he President had decided to fire Comey before hearing from the Department of Justice. The day after firing Comey, the President told Russian officials that he had ‘faced great pressure because of Russia,’ which had been “taken off” by Comey's firing. The next day, the President acknowledged in a television interview that he was going to fire Comey regardless of the Department of Justice's recommendation and that when he ‘decided to just do it,’ he was thinking that ‘this thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’ In response to a question about whether he was angry with Comey about the Russia investigation, the President said, ‘As far as I'm concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly,’ adding that firing Comey ‘might even lengthen out the investigation.’” [Vol. 2, p. 4]
  • “The President reacted to news that a Special Counsel had been appointed by telling advisors that it was ‘the end of his presidency’ and demanding that Sessions resign. Sessions submitted his resignation, but the President ultimately did not accept it. The President told aides that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and suggested that the Special Counsel therefore could not serve.” [Vol. 2, p. 4]
  • “Two days after directing McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed, the President made another attempt to affect the course of the Russia investigation. On June 19, 2017, the President met one-on-one in the Oval Office with his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, a trusted advisor outside the government, and dictated a message for Lewandowski to deliver to Sessions. The message said that Sessions should 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 Sessions planned to meet with the Special Counsel and ‘let [him] move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections.’” [Vol. 2, p. 5]
  • “One month later, in another private meeting with Lewandowski on July 19, 2017, the President asked about the status of his message for Sessions to limit the Special Counsel investigation to future election interference...Hours after that meeting, the President publicly criticized Sessions in an interview with the New York Times, and then issued a series of tweets making it clear that Sessions's job was in jeopardy.” [Vol. 2, p. 5]
  • “In the summer of 2017, the President learned that media outlets were asking questions about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was said to be offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton as ‘part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.’ On several occasions, the President directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails setting up the June 9 meeting, suggesting that the emails would not leak and that the number of lawyers with access to them should be limited. Before the emails became public, the President edited a press statement for 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’ and instead said only that the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children.” [Vol. 2, p. 5]
  • “In early summer 2017, the President called Sessions at home and again asked him to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation...In October 2017, the President met privately with Sessions in the Oval Office and asked him to ‘take [a] look’ at investigating Clinton. In December 2017, shortly after Flynn pleaded guilty pursuant to a cooperation agreement, the President met with Sessions in the Oval Office and suggested, according to notes taken by a senior advisor, that if Sessions unrecused and took back supervision of the Russia investigation, he would be a ‘hero.’ The President told Sessions, ‘I'm not going to do anything or direct you to do anything. I just want to be treated fairly.’” [Vol. 2, p. 5]
  • “In early 2018, the press reported that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed in June 2017 and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. The President reacted to the news stories by directing White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed. McGahn told those officials that the media reports were accurate...The President then met with McGahn in the Oval Office and again pressured him to deny the reports. Tn the same meeting, the President also asked McGahn why he had told the Special Counsel about the President's effort to remove the Special Counsel and why McGahn took notes of his conversations with the President.” [Vol. 2, p. 5-6]
  • “During Manafort's prosecution and when the jury in his criminal trial was deliberating, the President praised Manafort in public, said that Manafort was being treated unfairly, and declined to rule out a pardon. After Manafort was convicted, the President called Manafort ‘a brave man’ for refusing to ‘break’ and said that ‘flipping’ ‘almost ought to be outlawed.’” [Vol. 2, p. 6]
  • “The President's conduct towards Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive, changed from praise for Cohen when he falsely minimized the President's involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project, to castigation of Cohen when he became a cooperating witness.” [Vol. 2, p. 6]
  • “[A]fter Cohen began cooperating with the government in the summer of 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a ‘rat,’ and suggested that his family members had committed crimes.” [Vol. 2, p. 6]
  • “After more than a year of discussion, the President declined to be interviewed. [redact: grand jury] During the course of our discussions, the President did agree to answer written questions on certain Russia-related topics, and he provided us with answers. He did not similarly agree to provide written answers to questions on obstruction topics or questions on events during the transition.” [Vol. 2, p. 13]

A. The Campaign’s Response to Reports About Russian Support for Trump

  • “Trump responded to questions about possible connections to Russia by denying any business involvement in Russia-even though the Trump Organization had pursued a business project in Russia as late as June 2016. Trump also expressed skepticism that Russia had hacked the emails the same time as he and other Campaign advisors privately sought information [redacted: harm to ongoing matter] about further planned WikiLeaks releases. After the election, when questions persisted about possible links between Russia and the Trump Campaign, the President-Elect continued to deny any connections to Russia and privately expressed concerns that reports of Russian election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election.” [Vol. 2, p. 15]
  • “On June 16, 2015, Donald J. Trump declared his intent to seek nomination as the Republican candidate for President. By early 2016, he distinguished himself among Republican candidates by speaking of closer ties with Russia, saying he would get along well with Russian President Vladimir Putin, questioning whether the NATO alliance was obsolete, and praising Putin as a ‘strong leader.’” [Vol. 2, p. 16]
  • “Some witnesses said that Trump himself discussed the possibility of upcoming releases [redacted: harm to ongoing matter]. Michael Cohen, then-executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump, recalled hearing [redacted: harm to ongoing matter]. Cohen recalled that Trump responded, ‘oh, good, alright,’ and [redacted: harm to ongoing matter]. Manafort said that shortly after WikiLeaks’s July 22, 2016 release of hacked documents, he spoked to Trump [redacted: harm to ongoing matter]; Manafort recalled that Trump responded that Manafort should [redacted: harm to ongoing matter] keep Trump updated… Around the same time, Gates was with Trump on a trip to the airport [redacted: harm to ongoing matter], and shortly after the call ended, Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming.” [Vol. 2, p. 17-18]
  • “On July 26, 2016, Trump tweeted that it was ‘[c]razy’ to suggest that Russia was ‘dealing with Trump’ and that ‘[f]or the record,’ he had ‘ZERO investments in Russia.’” [Vol. 2, p. 18]
  • “In a press conference the next day, July 27, 2016, Trump characterized ‘this whole thing with Russia’ as ‘a total deflection’ and stated that it was ‘farfetched’ and ‘ridiculous.’ Trump said that the assertion that Russia had hacked the emails was unproven, but stated that it would give him ‘no pause’ if Russia had Clinton's emails. Trump added, ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.’ Trump also said that ‘there's nothing that I can think of that I'd rather do than have Russia friendly as opposed to the way they are right now,’ and in response to a question about whether he would recognize Crimea as Russian territory and consider lifting sanctions, Trump replied, ‘We’ll be looking at that. Yeah, we'll be looking.’”
  • “During the press conference, Trump repeated ‘I have nothing to do with Russia’ five times. He stated that ‘the closest [he] came to Russia’ was that Russians may have purchased a home or condos from him. He said that after he held the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013 he had been interested in working with Russian companies that ‘wanted to put a lot of money into developments in Russia’ but ‘it never worked out.’ He explained, ‘[f]rankly, I didn't want to do it for a couple of different reasons. But we had a major developer… that wanted to develop property in Moscow and other places. But we decided not to do it.’ The Trump Organization, however, had been pursuing a building project in Moscow—the Trump Tower Moscow project—from approximately September 2015 through June 2016, and the candidate was regularly updated on developments, including possible trips by Michael Cohen to Moscow to promote the deal and by Trump himself to finalize it.” [Vol. 2, p. 18-19]
  • “On November 8, 2016, Trump was elected President.” [Vol. 2, p. 21]
  • “On December 10, 2016, the press reported that U.S. intelligence agencies had ‘concluded that Russia interfered in last month's presidential election to boost Donald Trump's bid for the White House.’ Reacting to the story the next day, President-Elect Trump stated, ‘I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse.’ He continued that no one really knew who was responsible for the hacking, suggesting that the intelligence community had ‘no idea if it's Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place.’ The President-Elect also said that Democrats were ‘putting [] out’ the story of Russian interference ‘because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics.’” [Vol. 2, p. 21-22]
  • “When first asked about the sanctions, President-Elect Trump said, ‘I think we ought to get on with our lives.’ He then put out a statement that said ‘It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,’ but indicated that he would meet with intelligence community leaders the following week for a briefing on Russian interference. The briefing occurred on January 2, 2017.” [Vol. 2, p. 22]
  • “BuzzFeed published unverified allegations compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele during the campaign about candidate Trump's Russia connections… In a press conference the next day, the President-Elect called the release ‘an absolute disgrace’ and said, ‘I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we've stayed away .... So I have no deals, I have no loans and I have no dealings. We could make deals in Russia very easily if we wanted to, I just don't want to because I think that would be a conflict.’” [Vol. 2, p. 23]
  • “Several advisors recalled that the President-Elect viewed stories about his Russian connections, the Russia investigations, and the intelligence community assessment of Russian interference as a threat to the legitimacy of his electoral victory. Hicks, for example, said that the President-Elect viewed the intelligence community assessment as his ‘Achilles heel’ because, even if Russia had no impact on the election, people would think Russia helped him win, taking away from what he had accomplished. Sean Spicer, the first White House communications director, recalled that the President thought the Russia story was developed to undermine the legitimacy of his election. Gates said the President viewed the Russia investigation as an attack on the legitimacy of his win. And Priebus recalled that when the intelligence assessment came out, the President-Elect was concerned people would question the legitimacy of his win.” [Vol. 2, p. 23]

B. The President’s Conduct Concerning the Investigation of Michael Flynn

  • “On January 26, 2017, Department of Justice (DOJ) officials notified the White House that Flynn and the Russian Ambassador had discussed sanctions and that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI. The next night, the President had a private dinner with FBI Director James Comey in which he asked for Comey's loyalty. On February 13, 2017, the President asked Flynn to resign. The following day, the President had a one-on-one conversation with Comey in which he said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.’” [Vol. 2, p. 24]
  • “Shortly after the election, President-Elect Trump announced he would appoint Michael Flynn as his National Security Advisor.” [Vol. 2, p.24]
  • “Approximately one hour later, McFarland met with the President-Elect and senior officials and briefed them on the sanctions and Russia's possible responses…McFarland recalled that at the end of the meeting, someone may have mentioned to the President-Elect that Flynn was speaking to the Russian Ambassador that evening…Priebus recalled that the President-Elect viewed the sanctions as an attempt by the Obama Administration to embarrass him by delegitimizing his election. [Vol. 2, p. 25]
    • Footnote 88: “‘McFarland 12/22/17302, at 7. Priebus thought it was possible that McFarland had mentioned Flynn's scheduled call with Kislyak at this meeting, although he was not certain. Priebus 1118/ 18 302, at 3.’” [Vol. 2, p. 25]
  • “Following that announcement, the President-Elect tweeted, ‘Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!’” [Vol. 2, p. 26]
  • “On January 3, 2017, Flynn saw the President-Elect in person and thought they discussed the Russian reaction to the sanctions, but Flynn did not have a specific recollection of telling the President-Elect about the substance of his calls with Kislyak.” [Vol. 2, p. 26]
  • “On January 6, 2017, as noted in Volume II, Section Il.A.4, supra, intelligence officials briefed President-Elect Trump and the incoming Administration on the intelligence community's assessment that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election. When the briefing concluded, Comey spoke with the President-Elect privately to brief him on unverified, personally sensitive allegations compiled by Steele. According to a memorandum Comey drafted immediately after their private discussion, the President-Elect began the meeting by telling Comey he had conducted himself honorably over the prior year and had a great reputation. The President-Elect stated that he thought highly of Comey, looked forward to working with him, and hoped that he planned to stay on as FBI director. Comey responded that he intended to continue serving in that role. Comey then briefed the President-Elect on the sensitive material in the Steele reporting. Comey recalled that the President-Elect seemed defensive, so Comey decided to assure him that the FBI was not investigating him personally. Comey recalled he did not want the President-Elect to think of the conversation as a ‘J. Edgar Hoover move.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 27-28]
  • “The next day, the President-Elect expressed concern to intelligence community leaders about the fact that the information had leaked and asked whether they could make public statements refuting the allegations in the Steele reports.” [Vol. 2, p. 28]
  • “President-Elect Trump called Priebus after the story was published and expressed anger about it. Priebus recalled that the President-Elect asked, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Priebus called Flynn and told him that the President-Elect was angry about the reporting on Flynn's conversations with Kislyak.” [Vol. 2, p. 29]
  • “On January 20, 2017, President Trump was inaugurated.” [Vol. 2, p. 30]
  • “That afternoon, McGahn notified the President that Yates had come to the White House to discuss concerns about Flynn. McGahn described what Yates had told him, and the President asked him to repeat it, so he did…The President asked about Section 1001, and McGahn explained the law to him, and also explained the Logan Act. The President instructed McGahn to work with Priebus and Bannon to look into the matter further and directed that they not discuss it with any other officials. Priebus recalled that the President was angry with Flynn in light of what Yates had told the White House and said, ‘not again, this guy, this stuff.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 31-32]
  • “That evening, the President dined with several senior advisors and asked the group what they thought about FBI Director Comey.” [Vol. 2, p. 32]
  • “Also on January 27, the President called FBI Director Comey and invited him to dinner that evening. Priebus recalled that before the dinner, he told the President something like, ‘don't talk about Russia, whatever you do,’ and the President promised he would not talk about Russia at the dinner. McGahn had previously advised the President that he should not communicate directly with the Department of Justice to avoid the perception or reality of political interference in law enforcement. When Bannon learned about the President's planned dinner with Comey, he suggested that he or Priebus also attend, but the President stated that he wanted to dine with Comey alone.” [Vol. 2, p. 33]
  • “According to Comey's account of the dinner, the President repeatedly brought up Comey's future, asking whether he wanted to stay on as FBI director. Because the President had previously said he wanted Comey to stay on as FBI director…The President also brought up the Steele reporting that Comey had raised in the January 6, 2017 briefing and stated that he was thinking about ordering the FBI to investigate the allegations to prove they were false…Later in the dinner, the President brought up Flynn and said, ‘the guy has serious judgment issues’...the President did not acknowledge any FBI interest in or contact with Flynn.” [Vol. 2, p. 34]
  • “According to Comey's account, at one point during the dinner the President stated, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ Comey did not respond and the conversation moved on to other topics, but the President returned to the subject of Comey's job at the end of the dinner and repeated, ‘I need loyalty.’ Comey responded, ‘You will always get honesty from me.’ The President said, ‘That's what I want, honest loyalty.’ Comey said, ‘You will get that from me.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 34-35]
  • “After Comey's account of the dinner became public, the President and his advisors disputed that he had asked for Comey's loyalty. The President also indicated that he had not invited Comey to dinner, telling a reporter that he thought Comey had ‘asked for the dinner’ because ‘he wanted to stay on.’...The President's Daily Diary confirms that the President ‘extend[ed] a dinner invitation’ to Comey on January 27.” [Vol. 2, p. 35]
  • “The week of February 6, Flynn had a one-on-one conversation with the President in the Oval Office about the negative media coverage of his contacts with Kislyak. Flynn recalled that the President was upset and asked him for information on the conversations. Flynn listed the specific dates on which he remembered speaking with Kislyak, but the President corrected one of the dates he listed. The President asked Flynn what he and Kislyak discussed and Flynn responded that he might have talked about sanctions.” [Vol. 2, p. 36]
  • “Flynn accompanied the President to Mar-a-Lago. Flynn recalled that on February 12, 2017, on the return flight to D.C. on Air Force One, the President asked him whether he had lied to the Vice President. Flynn responded that he may have forgotten details of his calls, but he did not think he lied. The President responded, ‘Okay. That's fine. I got it.’” [Vol. 2, p. 37]
  • “Flynn said he wanted to say goodbye to the President, so Priebus brought him to the Oval Office. Priebus recalled that the President hugged Flynn, shook his hand, and said, ‘We’ll give you a good recommendation. You’re a good guy. We'll take care of you.’” [Vol. 2, p. 38]
  • “On February 14, 2017, the day after Flynn's resignation, the President had lunch at the White House with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. According to Christie, at one point during the lunch the President said, ‘Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over.’ Christie laughed and responded, ‘No way.’ He said, ‘this Russia thing is far from over’ and ‘we'll be here on Valentine's Day 2018 talking about this.’ The President said, ‘[w]hat do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It's over.’...The President asked Christie what he meant, and Christie told the President not to talk about the investigation even if he was frustrated at times.” [Vol. 2, pp. 38-39]
  • “Towards the end of the lunch, the President brought up Comey and asked if Christie was still friendly with him. Christie said he was. The President told Christie to call Comey and tell him that the President ‘really like[s] him. Tell him he's part of the team.’ At the end of the lunch, the President repeated his request that Christie reach out to Comey.” [Vol. 2, p. 39]
  • “At 4 p.m. that afternoon, the President met with Comey, Sessions, and other officials for a homeland security briefing. At the end of the briefing, the President dismissed the other attendees and stated that he wanted to speak to Comey alone. Sessions and senior advisor to the President Jared Kushner remained in the Oval Office as other participants left, but the President excused them, repeating that he wanted to speak only with Comey. At some point after others had left the Oval Office, Priebus opened the door, but the President sent him away.” [Vol. 2, pp. 39-40]
  • “According to Comey's account of the meeting, once they were alone, the President began the conversation by saying, ‘I want to talk about Mike Flynn.’ The President stated that Flynn had not done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but had to be terminated because he had misled the Vice President. The conversation turned to the topic of leaks of classified information, but the President returned to Flynn, saying ‘he is a good guy and has been through a lot.’ The President stated, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’” [Vol. 2, p. 40]
  • “On February 15, 2017, the President told reporters, ‘General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media.’ On February 16, 2017, the President held a press conference and said that he removed Flynn because Flynn ‘didn't tell the Vice President of the United States the facts, and then he didn’t remember. And that just wasn't acceptable to me.’ The President said he did not direct Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak, but ‘it certainly would have been okay with me if he did. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn't doing it. I didn't direct him, but I would have directed him because that's his job.’ In listing the reasons for terminating Flynn, the President did not say that Flynn had lied to him. The President also denied having any connection to Russia, stating, ‘I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there. I have no anything.’ The President also said he ‘had nothing to do with’ WikiLeaks's publication of information hacked from the Clinton campaign.” [Vol. 2, pp. 41-42]
  • “The next day, the President asked Priebus to have McFarland draft an internal email that would confirm that the President did not direct Flynn to call the Russian Ambassador about sanctions.” [Vol. 2, p. 42]
  • “Around the same time, the President asked Priebus to reach out to Flynn and let him know that the President still cared about him.” [Vol. 2, p. 43]
  • “[F]ollowing news that Flynn had offered to testify before the FBI and congressional investigators in exchange for immunity, the President tweeted, ‘Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!’ In late March or early April, the President asked McFarland to pass a message to Flynn telling him the President felt bad for him and that he should stay strong.” [Vol. 2, pp. 43-44]

C. The President’s Reaction to Public Confirmation of the FBI’s Russia Investigation

  • “[T]he President learned that Sessions was considering recusing from the Russia investigation and tried to prevent the recusal. After Sessions announced his recusal on March 2, the President expressed anger at Sessions for the decision and then privately asked Sessions to ‘unrecuse.’...In the days that followed, the President contacted Comey and other intelligence agency leaders and asked them to push back publicly on the suggestion that the President had any connection to the Russian election-interference effort in order to ‘lift the cloud’ of the ongoing investigation.” [Vol. 2, p. 48]
  • “Also on March 1, the President called Comey and said he wanted to check in and see how Comey was doing. According to an email Comey sent to his chief of staff after the call, the President ‘talked about Sessions a bit,’ said that he had heard Comey was ‘doing great,’ and said that he hoped Comey would come by to say hello when he was at the White House.” [Vol. 2, p. 48]
  • “The next morning, the President called McGahn and urged him to contact Sessions to tell him not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation…McGahn reported back to the President about the call with Sessions, and the President reiterated that he did not want Sessions to recuse.” [Vol. 2, p. 49]
  • “Sessions got the impression, based on calls he received from White House officials, that the President was very upset with him and did not think he had done his duty as Attorney General.” [Vol. 2, p. 50]
  • “The President opened the conversation by saying, ‘I don't have a lawyer.’ The President expressed anger at McGahn about the recusal and brought up Roy Cohn, stating that he wished Cohn was his attorney. McGahn interpreted this comment as directed at him, suggesting that Cohn would fight for the President whereas McGahn would not. The President wanted McGahn to talk to Sessions about the recusal…The President then brought up former Attorneys General Robert Kennedy and Eric Holder and said that they had protected their presidents. The President also pushed back on the DOJ contacts policy, and said words to the effect of, ‘You're telling me that Bobby and Jack didn't talk about investigations? Or Obama didn't tell Eric Holder who to investigate?’ Bannon recalled that the President was as mad as Bannon had ever seen him and that he screamed at McGahn about how weak Sessions was.” [Vol. 2, pp. 50-51]
    • Footnote 297: “Bannon said the President saw Robert Kennedy and Eric Holder as Attorneys General who protected the presidents they served. The President thought Holder always stood up for President Obama and even took a contempt charge for him, and Robert Kennedy always had his brother's back. Bannon 2/14/18 302, at 5. Priebus recalled that the President said he had been told his entire life he needed to have a great lawyer, a ‘bulldog,’ and added that Holder had been willing to take a contempt-of-Congress charge for President Obama. Priebus 4/3/18 302, at 5.” [Vol. 2, p. 51]
  • “Sessions recalled that the President pulled him aside to speak to him alone and suggested that Sessions should ‘unrecuse’ from the Russia investigation. The President contrasted Sessions with Attorneys General Holder and Kennedy, who had developed a strategy to help their presidents where Sessions had not. Sessions said he had the impression that the President feared that the investigation could spin out of control and disrupt his ability to govern, which Sessions could have helped avert if he were still overseeing it.” [Vol. 2, p. 51]
    • Footnote 304: “‘Hicks recalled that after Sessions recused, the President was angry and scolded Sessions in her presence’” [Vol. 2, p. 51]
  • “On March 6, the President told advisors he wanted to call the Acting Attorney General to find out whether the White House or the President was being investigated, although it is not clear whether the President knew at that time of the FBI's recent request concerning Flynn.” [Vol. 2, p. 52]
  • “Although it is unclear whether the President knew of that briefing at the time, notes taken by Annie Donaldson, then McGahn's chief of staff, on March 12, 2017, state, ‘POTUS in panic/chaos . . . Need binders to put in front of POTUS. (1) All things related to Russia.’” [Vol. 2, p. 52]
  • “McGahn said the President thought Comey was acting like ‘his own branch of government.’” [Vol. 2, p. 53]
  • “McGahn, Donaldson, and senior advisor Stephen Miller recalled that the President was upset with Comey's testimony and the press coverage that followed because of the suggestion that the President was under investigation. Notes from the White House Counsel's Office dated March 21, 2017, indicate that the President was ‘beside himself’ over Comey's testimony. The President called McGahn repeatedly that day to ask him to intervene with the Department of Justice, and, according to the notes, the President was ‘getting hotter and hotter, get rid?’” [Vol. 2, p. 54]
    • Footnote 323: “The notes from that day also indicate that the President referred to the ‘Comey bombshell’ which ‘made [him] look like a fool.’” [Vol. 2, p. 54]
  • “At the President's urging, McGahn contacted Boente several times on March 21, 2017, to seek Boente's assistance in having Comey or the Department of Justice correct the misperception that the President was under investigation…The President also sought to speak with Boente directly, but McGahn told the President that Boente did not want to talk to the President about the request to intervene with Comey.” [Vol. 2, pp. 54-55]
  • “In the weeks following Comey's March 20, 2017 testimony, the President repeatedly asked intelligence community officials to push back publicly on any suggestion that the President had a connection to the Russian election-interference effort.” [Vol. 2, p. 55]
  • “On March 22, 2017, the President asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and CIA Director Michael Pompeo to stay behind in the Oval Office after a Presidential Daily Briefing. According to Coats, the President asked them whether they could say publicly that no link existed between him and Russia…Pompeo had no recollection of being asked to stay behind after the March 22 briefing, but he recalled that the President regularly urged officials to get the word out that he had not done anything wrong related to Russia.” [Vol. 2, p. 55]
  • “Coats told this Office that the President never asked him to speak to Comey about the FBI investigation…According to senior ODNI official Michael Dempsey, Coats said after the meeting that the President had brought up the Russia investigation and asked him to contact Comey to see if there was a way to get past the investigation, get it over with, end it, or words to that effect. Dempsey said that Coats described the President's comments as falling ‘somewhere between musing about hating the investigation’ and wanting Coats to ‘do something to stop it.’...Edward Gistaro, another ODNI official, recalled that right after Coats's meeting with the President, on the walk from the Oval Office back to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Coats said that the President had kept him behind to ask him what he could do to ‘help with the investigation.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 55-56]
  • “On Saturday, March 25, 2017, three days after the meeting in the Oval Office, the President called Coats and again complained about the Russia investigations, saying words to the effect of, ‘I can't do anything with Russia, there's things I'd like to do with Russia, with trade, with ISIS, they're all over me with this.’” [Vol. 2, p. 56]
  • “On March 26, 2017, the day after the President called Coats, the President called NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers. The President expressed frustration with the Russia investigation, saying that it made relations with the Russians difficult. The President told Rogers ‘the thing with the Russians [wa]s messing up’ his ability to get things done with Russia. The President also said that the news stories linking him with Russia were not true and asked Rogers if he could do anything to refute the stories.” [Vol. 2, p. 56]
  • “[T]he President spoke on other occasions in the presence of intelligence community officials about the Russia investigation and stated that it interfered with his ability to conduct foreign relations. On at least two occasions, the President began Presidential Daily Briefings by stating that there was no collusion with Russia and he hoped a press statement to that effect could be issued. Pompeo recalled that the President vented about the investigation on multiple occasions, complaining that there was no evidence against him and that nobody would publicly defend him. Rogers recalled a private conversation with the President in which he ‘vent[ed]’ about the investigation, said he had done nothing wrong, and said something like the /Russia thing has got to go away.’ Coats recalled the President bringing up the Russia investigation several times.” [Vol. 2, p. 57]
  • “On the morning of March 30, 2017, the President reached out to Comey directly about the Russia investigation. According to Comey's contemporaneous record of the conversation, the President said ‘he was trying to run the country and the cloud of this Russia business was making that difficult.’ The President asked Comey what could be done to ‘lift the cloud.’...The President said several times, ‘We need to get that fact out.’ The President commented that if there was ‘some satellite’ (which Comey took to mean an associate of the President's or the campaign) that did something, ‘it would be good to find that out’ but that he himself had not done anything wrong and he hoped Comey ‘would find a way to get out that we weren't investigating him.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 57-58]
  • “On the morning of April 11, 2017, the President called Comey again. According to Comey's contemporaneous record of the conversation, the President said he was ‘following up to see if [Comey] did what [the President] had asked last time—getting out that he personally is not under investigation.’...The President said he would take that step. The President then added, ‘Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing, you know.’ In a televised interview that was taped early that afternoon, the President was asked if it was too late for him to ask Comey to step down; the President responded, ‘No, it's not too late, but you know, I have confidence in him. We'll see what happens. You know, it's going to be interesting.’ After the interview, Hicks told the President she thought the President's comment about Comey should be removed from the broadcast of the interview, but the President wanted to keep it in, which Hicks thought was unusual.” [Vol. 2, pp.58-59]
  • “Later that day, the President told senior advisors, including McGahn and Priebus, that he had reached out to Comey twice in recent weeks. The President acknowledged that McGahn would not approve of the outreach to Comey because McGahn had previously cautioned the President that he should not talk to Comey directly to prevent any perception that the White House was interfering with investigations. The President told McGahn that Comey had indicated the FBI could make a public statement that the President was not under investigation if the Department of Justice approved that action.” [Vol. 2, p. 59]

D. Events Leading Up To and Surrounding the Termination of FBI Director Comey

  • “Leading up to that testimony, the President continued to tell advisors that he wanted Comey to make public that the President was not under investigation…Two days later, on May 5, 2017, the President told close aides he was going to fire Comey, and on May 9, he did so, using his official termination letter to make public that Comey had on three occasions informed the President that he was not under investigation. The President decided to fire Comey before receiving advice or a recommendation from the Department of Justice, but he approved an initial public account of the termination that attributed it to a recommendation from the Department of Justice based on Comey's handling of the Clinton email investigation…the President acknowledged that he intended to fire Comey regardless of the DOJ recommendation and was thinking of the Russia investigation when he made the decision. The President also told the Russian Foreign Minister, ‘I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.....I'm not under investigation.’” [Vol. 2, p. 62]
  • “McGahn recalled that in the week leading up to the hearing, the President said that it would be the last straw if Comey did not take the opportunity to set the record straight by publicly announcing that the President was not under investigation. The President had previously told McGahn that the perception that the President was under investigation was hurting his ability to carry out his presidential duties and deal with foreign leaders.” [Vol. 2, p. 62]
  • “In the afternoon following Comey's testimony, the President met with McGahn, Sessions, and Sessions's Chief of Staff Jody Hunt. At that meeting, the President asked McGahn how Comey had done in his testimony and McGahn relayed that Comey had declined to answer questions about whether the President was under investigation. The President became very upset and directed his anger at Sessions. According to notes written by Hunt, the President said, ‘This is terrible Jeff. It's all because you recused. AG is supposed to be most important appointment. Kennedy appointed his brother. Obama appointed Holder. I appointed you and you recused yourself. You left me on an island. I can't do anything.’ The President said that the recusal was unfair and that it was interfering with his ability to govern and undermining his authority with foreign leaders.” [Vol. 2, p. 63]
  • “Bannon recalled that the President brought Comey up with him at least eight times on May 3 and May 4, 2017. According to Bannon, the President said the same thing each time:’’He told me three times I'm not under investigation. He's a showboater. He's a grandstander. I don't know any Russians. There was no collusion.’” [Vol. 2, p. 64]
  • “The weekend following Comey's May 3, 2017 testimony, the President traveled to his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. At a dinner on Friday, May 5, attended by the President and various advisors and family members, including Jared Kushner and senior advisor Stephen Miller, the President stated that he wanted to remove Comey and had ideas for a letter that would be used to make the announcement. The President dictated arguments and specific language for the letter, and Miller took notes. As reflected in the notes, the President told Miller that the letter should start, ‘While I greatly appreciate you informing me that I am not under investigation concerning what I have often stated is a fabricated story on a Trump-Russia relationship—pertaining to the 2016 presidential election, please be informed that I, and I believe the American public—including Ds and Rs—have lost faith in you as Director of the FBl.’...Over the weekend, the President provided several rounds of edits on the draft letter. Miller said the President was adamant that he not tell anyone at the White House what they were preparing because the President was worried about leaks.” [Vol. 2, pp. 64-65]
  • “In his discussions with Miller, the President made clear that he wanted the letter to open with a reference to him not being under investigation…According to Miller, the President wanted to establish as a factual matter that Comey had been under a ‘review period’ and did not have assurance from the President that he would be permitted to keep his job.” [Vol. 2, p. 65]
  • “The final version of the termination letter prepared by Miller and the President began in a way that closely tracked what the President had dictated to Miller at the May 5 dinner: ‘Dear Director Comey, While I greatly appreciate your informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation concerning the fabricated and politically-motivated allegations of a Trump-Russia relationship with respect to the 2016 Presidential Election, please be informed that I, along with members of both political parties and, most importantly, the American Public, have lost faith in you as the Director of the FBI and you are hereby terminated…’ The letter stated that Comey had ‘asked [the President] at dinner shortly after inauguration to let [Comey] stay on in the Director's role, and [the President] said that [he] would consider it,’ but the President had ‘concluded that [he] ha[d] no alternative but to find new leadership for the Bureau—a leader that restores confidence and trust.’” [Vol. 2, p. 65]
  • “In the morning of Monday, May 8, 2017, the President met in the Oval Office with senior advisors, including McGahn, Priebus, and Miller, and informed them he had decided to terminate Comey. The President read aloud the first paragraphs of the termination letter he wrote with Miller and conveyed that the decision had been made and was not up for discussion. The President told the group that Miller had researched the issue and determined the President had the authority to terminate Comey without cause.” [Vol. 2, pp. 65-66]
  • “[T]he President and several White House officials met with Sessions and Rosenstein to discuss Comey. The President told the group that he had watched Comey's May 3 testimony over the weekend and thought that something was ‘not right’ with Comey. The President said that Comey should be removed and asked Sessions and Rosenstein for their views”. [Vol. 2, pp. 66-67]
  • “The President then distributed copies of the termination letter he had drafted with Miller, and the discussion turned to the mechanics of how to fire Comey and whether the President's letter should be used. McGahn and Dhillon urged the President to permit Comey to resign, but the President was adamant that he be fired…The President agreed and told Rosenstein to draft a memorandum, but said he wanted to receive it first thing the next morning. Hunt's notes reflect that the President told Rosenstein to include in his recommendation the fact that Comey had refused to confirm that the President was not personally under investigation. According to notes taken by a senior DOJ official of Rosenstein's description of his meeting with the President, the President said, ‘Put the Russia stuff in the memo.’ Rosenstein responded that the Russia investigation was not the basis of his recommendation, so he did not think Russia should be mentioned. The President told Rosenstein he would appreciate it if Rosenstein put it in his letter anyway.” [Vol. 2, p. 67]
  • “McGahn recalled that the President liked the DOJ letters and agreed that they should provide the foundation for a new cover letter from the President accepting the recommendation to terminate Comey…The President asked Miller to draft a new termination letter and directed Miller to say in the letter that Comey had informed the President three times that he was not under investigation. McGahn, Priebus, and Dhillon objected to including that language, but the President insisted that it be included…Dhillon made a final pitch to the President that Comey should be permitted to resign, but the President refused.” [Vol. 2, pp. 68-69]
  • “That evening, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was summoned to meet with the President at the White House. The President told McCabe that he had fired Comey because of the decisions Comey had made in the Clinton email investigation and for many other reasons. The President asked McCabe if he was aware that Comey had told the President three times that he was not under investigation. The President also asked McCabe whether many people in the FBI disliked Comey and whether McCabe was part of the ‘resistance’ that had disagreed with Comey's decisions in the Clinton investigation.” [Vol. 2, p. 69]
  • “Later that evening, the President told his communications team he was unhappy with the press coverage of Comey's termination and ordered them to go out and defend him. The President also called Chris Christie and, according to Christie, said he was getting ‘killed’ in the press over Comey's termination. The President asked what he should do. Christie asked, ‘Did you fire [Comey] because of what Rod wrote in the memo?’ , and the President responded, ‘Yes.’ Christie said that the President should ‘get Rod out there’ and have him defend the decision. The President told Christie that this was a ‘good idea’ and said he was going to call Rosenstein right away.” [Vol. 2, p. 70]
  • “The President then called Rosenstein directly and said he was watching Fox News, that the coverage had been great, and that he wanted Rosenstein to do a press conference.” [Vol. 2, p. 70]
  • “In the morning on May 10, 2017, President Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. The media subsequently reported that during the May 10 meeting the President brought up his decision the prior day to terminate Comey, telling Lavrov and Kislyak: ‘I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off….I'm not under investigation.’ The President never denied making those statements, and the White House did not dispute the account, instead issuing a statement…Hicks said that when she told the President about the reports on his meeting with Lavrov, he did not look concerned and said of Comey, ‘he is crazy.’ When McGahn asked the President about his comments to Lavrov, the President said it was good that Comey was fired because that took the pressure off by making it clear that he was not under investigation so he could get more work done.” [Vol. 2, p. 71]
  • “That same morning, on May 10, 2017, the President called McCabe. According to a memorandum McCabe wrote following the call, the President asked McCabe to come over to the White House to discuss whether the President should visit FBI headquarters and make a speech to employees. The President said he had received ‘hundreds’ of messages from FBI employees indicating their support for terminating Comey. The President also told McCabe that Comey should not have been permitted to travel back to Washington, D.C. on the FBI's airplane after he had been terminated and that he did not want Comey ‘in the building again,’ even to collect his belongings. When McCabe met with the President that afternoon, the President, without prompting, told McCabe that people in the FBI loved the President, estimated that at least 80% of the FBI had voted for him, and asked McCabe who he had voted for in the 2016 presidential election.” [Vol. 2, p. 72]
  • “Following the press conference, Sanders spoke to the President, who told her she did a good job and did not point out any inaccuracies in her comments. Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue.’...’in the heat of the moment’ that was not founded on anything.” [Vol. 2, p. 72]
  • “The next day, on May 11, 2017, the President participated in an interview with Lester Holt. The President told White House Counsel's Office attorneys in advance of the interview that the communications team could not get the story right, so he was going on Lester Holt to say what really happened. During the interview, the President stated that he had made the decision to fire Comey before the President met with Rosenstein and Sessions. The President told Holt, ‘I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. . . . [Rosenstein] made a recommendation. But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it.’ The President continued, ‘And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself—I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won.’” [Vol. 2, p. 73]
  • “In response to a question about whether he was angry with Comey about the Russia investigation, the President said, ‘As far as I'm concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly.’ The President added that he realized his termination of Comey ‘probably maybe will confuse people’ with the result that it ‘might even lengthen out the investigation,’ but he ‘ha[d] to do the right thing for the American people’ and Comey was ‘the wrong man for that position.’ The President described Comey as ‘a showboat’ and ‘a grandstander,’ said that ‘[t]he FBI has been in turmoil,’ and said he wanted ‘to have a really competent, capable director.’ The President affirmed that he expected the new FBI director to continue the Russia investigation.” [Vol. 2, p. 73]
  • “On the evening of May 11, 2017, following the Lester Holt interview, the President tweeted, ‘Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election.’...Late in the morning of May 12, 2017, the President tweeted, ‘Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.’ The President also tweeted, ‘James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!’ and ‘When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?’” [Vol. 2, pp. 73-74]

E. The President’s Efforts to Remove the Special Counsel

  • “The Acting Attorney General appointed a Special Counsel on May 17, 2017, prompting the President to state that it was the end of his presidency and that Attorney General Sessions had failed to protect him and should resign. Sessions submitted his resignation, which the President ultimately did not accept. The President told senior advisors that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest…On June 14, 2017, the press reported that the President was being personally investigated for obstruction of justice and the President responded with a series of tweets criticizing the Special Counsel's investigation. That weekend, the President called McGahn and directed him to have the Special Counsel removed because of asserted conflicts of interest…the President did not follow up with McGahn on his request to have the Special Counsel removed.” [Vol. 2, pp. 77-78]
  • “The President learned of the Special Counsel's appointment from Sessions, who was with the President, Hunt, and McGahn conducting interviews for a new FBI Director…According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel had been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm fucked.’ The President became angry and lambasted the Attorney General for his decision to recuse from the investigation, stating, ‘How could you let this happen, Jeff?’ The President said the position of Attorney General was his most important appointment and that Sessions had ‘let [him] down,’ contrasting him to Eric Holder and Robert Kennedy. Sessions recalled that the President said to him, ‘you were supposed to protect me,’ or words to that effect. The President returned to the consequences of the appointment and said, ‘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.’” [Vol. 2, p. 78]
  • “The President then told Sessions he should resign as Attorney General…Hicks saw the President shortly after Sessions departed and described the President as being extremely upset by the Special Counsel’s appointment. Hicks said that she had only seen the President like that one other time, when the Access Hollywood tape came out during the campaign.” [Vol. 2, p. 79]
  • “The President said he wanted Sessions to stay. At the conclusion of the meeting, the President shook Sessions's hand but did not return the resignation letter.” [Vol. 2, p. 79]
  • “Hicks recalled that on the President's flight from Saudi Arabia to Tel Aviv, the President pulled Sessions's resignation letter from his pocket, showed it to a group of senior advisors, and asked them what he should do about it. During the trip, Priebus asked about the resignation letter so he could return it to Sessions, but the President told him that the letter was back at the White House, somewhere in the residence. It was not until May 30, three days after the President returned from the trip, that the President returned the letter to Sessions with a notation saying, ‘Not accepted.’” [Vol. 2, p. 80]
  • “In the days following the Special Counsel's appointment, the President repeatedly told advisors, including Priebus, Bannon, and McGahn, that Special Counsel Mueller had conflicts of interest. The President cited as conflicts that Mueller had interviewed for the FBI Director position shortly before being appointed as Special Counsel, that he had worked for a law firm that represented people affiliated with the President, and that Mueller had disputed certain fees relating to his membership in a Trump golf course in Northern Virginia…The President did not respond when Bannon pushed back on the stated conflicts of interest.” [Vol. 2, pp. 80-81]
  • “McGahn recalled that around the same time, the President complained about the asserted conflicts and prodded McGahn to reach out to Rosenstein about the issue…By the time McGahn provided this advice to the President, there had been widespread reporting on the President's request for Comey's loyalty, which the President publicly denied; his request that Comey ‘Iet[] Flynn go,’ which the President also denied; and the President's statement to the Russian Foreign Minister that the termination of Comey had relieved ‘great pressure’ related to Russia, which the President did not deny.” [Vol. 2, pp. 81-82]
  • “Sanders asked the President for guidance on how to respond to press inquiries about the possible firing of the Special Counsel. The President dictated an answer, which Sanders delivered, saying that ‘[w]hile the president has every right to’ fire the Special Counsel, ‘he has no intention to do so.’” [Vol. 2, p. 83]
  • “That evening, at approximately 10:31 p.m., the President called McGahn on McGahn "s personal cell phone and they spoke for about 15 minutes. McGahn did not have a clear memory of the call but thought they might have discussed the stories reporting that the President was under investigation.” [Vol. 2, p. 84]
  • “Beginning early the next day, June 15, 2017, the President issued a series of tweets acknowledging the existence of the obstruction investigation and criticizing it. He wrote: ‘They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice’; ‘You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history—led by some very bad and conflicted people!’; and ‘Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, ‘bleached’ emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared—& they talk about obstruction?’ The next day, June 16, 2017, the President wrote additional tweets criticizing the investigation: ‘After 7 months of investigations & committee hearings about my ‘collusion with the Russians,’ nobody has been able to show any proof. Sad!’; and ‘I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”’ [Vol. 2, pp. 84-85]
  • “[T]he President called McGahn and directed him to have the Special Counsel removed…In interviews with this Office, McGahn recalled that the President called him at home twice and on both occasions directed him to call Rosenstein and say that Mueller had conflicts that precluded him from serving as Special Counsel.” [Vol. 2, p. 85]
  • “On the first call, McGahn recalled that the President said something like, ‘You gotta do this. You gotta call Rod.’” [Vol. 2, p. 85]
  • “When the President called McGahn a second time to follow up on the order to call the Department of Justice, McGahn recalled that the President was more direct, saying something like, ‘Call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can't be the Special Counsel.’ McGahn recalled the President telling him ‘Mueller has to go’ and ‘Call me back when you do it.’” [Vol. 2, p. 86]
  • “McGahn told Donaldson that the President had called at least twice and in one of the calls asked ‘have you done it?”’ [Vol. 2, p. 86]
  • “Around the same time, Chris Christie recalled a telephone call with the President in which the President asked what Christie thought about the President firing the Special Counsel.” [Vol. 2, p. 87]

F. The President’s Efforts to Curtail the Special Counsel Investigation

  • “Two days after the President directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed, the President made another attempt to affect the course of the Russia investigation. On June 19, 2017, the President met one-on-one with Corey Lewandowski in the Oval Office and dictated a message to be delivered to Attorney General Sessions that would have had the effect of limiting the Russia investigation to future election interference only. One month later, the President met again with Lewandowski and followed up on the request to have Sessions limit the scope of the Russia investigation. Lewandowski told the President the message would be delivered soon. Hours later, the President publicly criticized Sessions in an unplanned press interview, raising questions about Sessions's job security.” [Vol. 2, p. 90]
  • “On June 19, 2017, two days after the President directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed, the President met one-on-one in the Oval Office with his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.” [Vol. 2, pp. 90-91]
  • “[A]fter some small talk, the President brought up Sessions and criticized his recusal from the Russia investigation. The President told Lewandowski that Sessions was weak and that if the President had known about the likelihood of recusal in advance, he would not have appointed Sessions. The President then asked Lewandowski to deliver a message to Sessions and said ‘write this down.’ This was the first time the President had asked Lewandowski to take dictation.” [Vol. 2, p. 91]
  • “The President directed that Sessions should give a speech publicly announcing:
    • I know that I recused myself from certain things having to do with specific areas. But our POTUS…is being treated very unfairly. He shouldn't have a Special Prosecutor/Counsel b/c he hasn't done anything wrong. I was on the campaign w/ him for nine months, there were no Russians involved with him. I know it for a fact b/c I was there. He didn't do anything wrong except he ran the greatest campaign in American history.” [Vol. 2, p. 91]
  • “The dictated message went on to state that Sessions would meet with the Special Counsel to limit his jurisdiction to future election interference:
    • Now a group of people want to subvert the Constitution of the United States. I am going to meet with the Special Prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and let the Special Prosecutor move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future elections.” [Vol. 2, p. 91]
  • “The President said that if Sessions delivered that statement he would be the most popular guy in the country.” [Vol. 2, p. 92]
  • “President knew Lewandowski could be trusted[.]” [Vol. 2, p. 92]
  • “On July 19, 2017, the President again met with Lewandowski alone in the Oval Office…In the July 19 meeting with Lewandowski, the President raised his previous request and asked if Lewandowski had talked to Sessions. Lewandowski told the President that the message would be delivered soon. Lewandowski recalled that the President told him that if Sessions did not meet with him, Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired.” [Vol. 2, pp. 92-93]
  • “Within hours of the President's meeting with Lewandowski on July 19, 2017, the President gave an unplanned interview to the New York Times in which he criticized Sessions's decision to recuse from the Russia investigation. The President said that ‘Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.’ Sessions's recusal, the President said, was ‘very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I can't, you know, I'm not going to take you.’ It's extremely unfair, and that's a mild word, to the president’...but the President ‘loved the interview.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 93-94]
  • “Lewandowski told her the President had recently asked him to meet with Sessions and deliver a message that he needed to do the ‘right thing’ and resign…the President called Hicks and told her he was happy with how coverage of his New York Times interview criticizing Sessions was playing out.” [Vol. 2, p. 94]
  • “Early the following morning, July 22, 2017, the President tweeted, ‘A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post, this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions. These illegal leaks, like Comey's, must stop!’ Approximately one hour later, the President tweeted, ‘So many people are asking why isn't the A.G. or Special Council looking at the many Hillary Clinton or Comey crimes. 33,000 e-mails deleted?’ Later that morning, while aboard Marine One on the way to Norfolk, Virginia, the President told Priebus that he had to get Sessions to resign immediately. The President said that the country had lost confidence in Sessions and the negative publicity was not tolerable. According to contemporaneous notes taken by Priebus, the President told Priebus to say that he ‘need[ed] a letter of resignation on [his] desk immediately’ and that Sessions had ‘no choice’ but ‘must immediately resign.’...but the President suggested he could make a recess appointment to replace Sessions.” [Vol. 2, p. 95]
  • “The President followed up with Priebus about demanding Sessions's resignation, using words to the effect of, ‘Did you get it? Are you working on it?’...The President agreed to hold off on demanding Sessions's resignation until after the Sunday shows the next day, to prevent the shows from focusing on the firing.” [Vol. 2, p. 96]
  • “Priebus recalled that the President relented and agreed not to ask Sessions to resign. Over the next several days, the President tweeted about Sessions. On the morning of Monday, July 24, 2017, the President criticized Sessions for neglecting to investigate Clinton and called him ‘beleaguered.’ On July 25, the President tweeted, ‘Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are Emails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!’ The following day, July 26, the President tweeted, ‘Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation.’” [Vol. 2, p. 96]

G. The President’s Efforts to Prevent Disclosure of Emails About the June 9, 2016 Meeting Between Russians and Senior Campaign Officials

  • “By June 2017, the President became aware of emails setting up the June 9, 2016 meeting between senior campaign officials and Russians who offered derogatory information on Hillary Clinton as ‘part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump.’ On multiple occasions in late June and early July 2017, the President directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails, and he then dictated a statement about the meeting to be issued by Donald Trump Jr. describing the meeting as about adoption.” [Vol. 2, p. 98]
  • “According to written answers submitted by the President in response to questions from this Office, the President had no recollection of learning of the meeting or the emails setting it up at the time the meeting occurred or at any other time before the election.” [Vol. 2, p. 99]
  • “Kushner brought a folder of documents to the meeting and tried to show them to the President, but the President stopped Kushner and said he did not want to know about it, shutting the conversation down.” [Vol. 2, p. 100]
  • “The next day, Hicks spoke privately with the President to mention her concern about the emails, which she understood were soon going to be shared with Congress. The President seemed upset because too many people knew about the emails and he told Hicks that just one lawyer should deal with the matter. The President indicated that he did not think the emails would leak, but said they would leak if everyone had access to them.” [Vol. 2, p. 100]
  • “Later that day, Hicks, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump went together to talk to the President. Hicks recalled that Kushner told the President the June 9 meeting was not a big deal and was about Russian adoption, but that emails existed setting up the meeting…The President said he did not want to know about it and they should not go to the press. Hicks warned the President that the emails were ‘really bad’ and the story would be ‘massive’ when it broke, but the President was insistent that he did not want to talk about it and said he did not want details. Hicks recalled that the President asked Kushner when his document production was due. Kushner responded that it would be a couple of weeks and the President said, ‘then leave it alone.’ Hicks also recalled that the President said Kushner's attorney should give the emails to whomever he needed to give them to, but the President did not think they would be leaked to the press. Raffel later heard from Hicks that the President had directed the group not to be proactive in disclosing the emails because the President believed they would not leak.” [Vol. 2, p. 101]
  • “The following week, the President departed on an overseas trip for the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, accompanied by Hicks, Raffel, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump, among others…The next day, Hicks told the President about the story and he directed her not to comment…Later that day, Hicks and the President again spoke about the story. Hicks recalled that the President asked her what the meeting had been about, and she said that she had been told the meeting was about Russian adoption. The President responded, ‘then just say that.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 101-102]
  • “On the flight home from the G20 on July 8, 2017, Hicks obtained a draft statement about the meeting to be released by Trump Jr. and brought it to the President…Hicks again wanted to disclose the entire story, but the President directed that the statement not be issued because it said too much. The President told Hicks to say only that Trump Jr. took a brief meeting and it was about Russian adoption. After speaking with the President, Hicks texted Trump Jr. a revised statement on the June 9 meeting.” [Vol. 2, p. 102]
  • “Hicks recalled again going to the President to urge him that they should be fully transparent about the June 9 meeting, but he again said no, telling Hicks, ‘You've given a statement. We're done.’” [Vol. 2, p. 103]
  • “Later on the flight home, Hicks went to the President's cabin, where the President was on the phone with one of his personal attorneys. At one point the President handed the phone to Hicks, and the attorney told Hicks that he had been working with Circa News on a separate story, and that she should not talk to the New York Times.” [Vol. 2, p. 103]
  • “The next day, July 9, 2017, Hicks and the President called Corallo together and the President criticized Corallo for the statement he had released. Corallo told the President the statement had been authorized and further observed that Trump Jr.'s statement was inaccurate and that a document existed that would contradict it.” [Vol. 2, p. 104]
  • “After consulting with the President on the issue, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told the media that the President ‘certainly didn't dictate’ the statement, but that ‘he weighed in, offered suggestions like any father would do.’ Several months later, the President's personal counsel stated in a private communication to the Special Counsel's Office that ‘the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.’ The President later told the press that it was ‘irrelevant’ whether he dictated the statement and said, ‘It's a statement to the New York Times….That's not a statement to a high tribunal of judges.’” [Vol. 2, p. 105]
  • “On July 19, 2017, the President had his follow-up meeting with Lewandowski and then met with reporters for the New York Times. In addition to criticizing Sessions in his Times interview, the President addressed the June 9, 2016 meeting and said he ‘didn't know anything about the meeting’ at the time. The President added, ‘As I've said—most other people, you know, when they call up and say, ‘By the way, we have information on your opponent,’ I think most politicians—I was just with a lot of people, they said…, ‘Who wouldn't have taken a meeting like that?’’ “ [Vol. 2, p. 105]

H. The President’s Further Efforts to Have the Attorney General Take Over the Investigation

  • “From summer 2017 through 2018, the President attempted to have Attorney General Sessions reverse his recusal, take control of the Special Counsel's investigation, and order an investigation of Hillary Clinton.” [Vol. 2, p. 107]
  • “After returning Sessions's resignation letter at the end of May 2017, but before the President's July 19, 2017 New York Times interview in which he publicly criticized Sessions for recusing from the Russia investigation, the President took additional steps to have Sessions reverse his recusal. In particular, at some point after the May 17, 2017 appointment of the Special Counsel, Sessions recalled, the President called him at home and asked if Sessions would ‘unrecuse’ himself. According to Sessions, the President asked him to reverse his recusal so that Sessions could direct the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute Hillary Clinton, and the ‘gist’ of the conversation was that the President wanted Sessions to unrecuse from ‘all of it,’ including the Special Counsel's Russia investigation.” [Vol. 2, p. 107]
  • “In early July 2017, the President asked Staff Secretary Rob Porter what he thought of Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand. Porter recalled that the President asked him if Brand was good, tough, and ‘on the team.’ The President also asked if Porter thought Brand was interested in being responsible for the Special Counsel's investigation and whether she would want to be Attorney General one day. Because Porter knew Brand, the President asked him to sound her out about taking responsibility for the investigation and being Attorney General. Contemporaneous notes taken by Porter show that the President told Porter to ‘Keep in touch with your friend,’ in reference to Brand. Later, the President asked Porter a few times in passing whether he had spoken to Brand…In asking him to reach out to Brand, Porter understood the President to want to find someone to end the Russia investigation or fire the Special Counsel, although the President never said so explicitly.” [Vol. 2, p. 108]
  • “McGahn recalled that during the summer of 2017, he and the President discussed the fact that if Sessions were no longer in his position the Special Counsel would report directly to a non-recused Attorney General…McGahn also recalled that in or around July 2017, the President frequently brought up his displeasure with Sessions. Hicks recalled that the President viewed Sessions's recusal from the Russia investigation as an act of disloyalty. In addition to criticizing Sessions's recusal, the President raised other concerns about Sessions and his job performance with McGahn and Hicks.” [Vol. 2, p. 108]
  • “Later in 2017, the President continued to urge Sessions to reverse his recusal from campaign-related investigations and considered replacing Sessions with an Attorney General who would not be recused.” [Vol. 2, p. 109]
  • “On October 16, 2017, the President met privately with Sessions and said that the Department of Justice was not investigating individuals and events that the President thought the Department should be investigating. According to contemporaneous notes taken by Porter, who was at the meeting, the President mentioned Clinton's emails and said, ‘Don't have to tell us, just take [a] look.’...Two days later, on October 18, 2017, the President tweeted, ‘Wow, FBI confirms report that James Comey drafted letter exonerating Crooked Hillary Clinton long before investigation was complete. Many people not interviewed, including Clinton herself. Comey stated under oath that he didn't do this-obviously a fix? Where is Justice Dept?’ On October 29, 2017, the President tweeted that there was ‘ANGER & UNITY’ over a ‘lack of investigation’ of Clinton and ‘the Comey fix,’ and concluded: ‘DO SOMETHING!’” [Vol. 2, p. 109]
  • “On December 6, 2017, five days after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russian government, the President asked to speak with Sessions in the Oval Office at the end of a cabinet meeting. During that Oval Office meeting, which Porter attended, the President again suggested that Sessions could ‘unrecuse,’... According to contemporaneous notes taken by Porter, the President said, ‘I don’t know if you could un-recuse yourself. You’d be a hero. Not telling you to do anything. Dershowitz says POTUS can get involved. Can order AG to investigate. I don’t want to get involved. I’m not going to get involved. I’m not going to do anything or direct you to do anything. I just want to be treated fairly.’” [Vol. 2, p. 109]
  • “At the end of December, the President told the New York Times it was ‘too bad’ that Sessions had recused himself from the Russia investigation. When asked whether Holder had been a more loyal Attorney General to President Obama than Sessions was to him, the President said, ‘I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him. When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest.’ Later in January, the President brought up the idea of replacing Sessions and told Porter that he wanted to ‘clean house’ at the Department of Justice. In a meeting in the White House residence that Porter attended on January 27, 2018, Porter recalled that the President talked about the great attorneys he had in the past with successful win records, such as Roy Cohn and Jay Goldberg, and said that one of his biggest failings as President was that he had not surrounded himself with good attorneys, citing Sessions as an example. The President raised Sessions’s recusal and brought up and criticized the Special Counsel’s investigation.” [Vol. 2, p. 110]
  • “Over the next several months, the President continued to criticize Sessions in tweets and media interviews and on several occasions appeared to publicly encourage him to take action in the Russia investigation despite his recusal. On June 5, 2018, for example, the President tweeted, ‘The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself. ... I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined ... and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!’ On August 1, 2018, the President tweeted that ‘Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now.’ On August 23, 2018, the President publicly criticized Sessions in a press interview and suggested that prosecutions at the Department of Justice were politically motivated because Paul Manafort had been prosecuted but Democrats had not. The President said, ‘I put in an Attorney General that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions.’ That day, Sessions issued a press statement that said, ‘I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in .... While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.’ The next day, the President tweeted a response: ‘’Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.’ Jeff, this is GREAT, what everyone wants, so look into all of the corruption on the other side including deleted Emails, Comey lies & leaks, Mueller conflicts, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA abuse, Christopher Steele & his phony and corrupt Dossier, the Clinton Foundation, illegal surveillance of Trump campaign, Russian collusion by Dems — and so much more. Open up the papers & documents without redaction? Come on Jeff, you can do it, the country is waiting!’” [Vol. 2, pp. 110-111]
  • “On November 7, 2018, the day after the midterm elections, the President replaced Sessions with Sessions’s chief of staff as Acting Attorney General.” [ Vol. 2, p. 111]

I. The President Orders McGahn to Deny that the President Tried to Fire the Special Counsel

  • “In late January 2018, the media reported that in June 2017 the President had ordered McGahn to have the Special Counsel fired based on purported conflicts of interest but McGahn had refused, saying he would quit instead. After the story broke, the President, through his personal counsel and two aides, sought to have McGahn deny that he had been directed to remove the Special Counsel.” [Vol. 2, p. 113]
  • “The President later personally met with McGahn in the Oval Office with only the Chief of Staff present and tried to get McGahn to say that the President never ordered him to fire the Special Counsel… In that same meeting, the President challenged McGahn for taking notes of his discussions with the President and asked why he had told Special Counsel investigators that he had been directed to have the Special Counsel removed.” [Vol. 2, p. 113]
  • “After the [Jan. 2018 New York Times] article was published, the President dismissed the story when asked about it by reporters, saying, ‘Fake news, folks. Fake news. A typical New York Times fake story.” [ Vol. 2, pp. 113-114]
  • “On January 26, 2018, the President’s personal counsel called McGahn’s attorney and said that the President wanted McGahn to put out a statement denying that he had been asked to fire the Special Counsel and that he had threatened to quit in protest...Hicks recalled relaying to the President that one of his attorneys had spoken to McGahn’s attorney about the issue. Also on January 26, 2017, Hicks recalled that the President asked Sanders to contact McGahn about the story.” [Vol. 2, pp. 114-115]
  • “On February 4, 2018, Priebus appeared on Meet the Press and said he had not heard the President say that he wanted the Special Counsel fired. After Priebus’s appearance, the President called Priebus and said he did a great job on Meet the Press. The President also told Priebus that the President had ‘never said any of those things about’ the Special Counsel.” [Vol. 2, p. 115]
  • “[O]n February 5, 2018, the President complained about the Times article to Porter. The President told Porter that the article was ‘bullshit’ and he had not sought to terminate the Special Counsel. The President said that McGahn leaked to the media to make himself look good. The President then directed Porter to tell McGahn to create a record to make clear that the President never directed McGahn to fire the Special Counsel…[T]he President said he wanted McGahn to write a letter to the file ‘for our records’ and wanted something beyond a press statement to demonstrate that the reporting was inaccurate. The President referred to McGahn as a ‘lying bastard’ and said that he wanted a record from him. Porter recalled the President saying something to the effect of, ‘If he doesn’t write a letter, then maybe I’ll have to get rid of him.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 115-116]
  • “Porter said that to his knowledge the issue of McGahn’s letter never came up with the President again[.]” [Vol. 2, p. 116]
  • “The next day, on February 6, 2018… The President began the Oval Office meeting by telling McGahn that the New York Times story did not ‘look good’ and McGahn needed to correct it. McGahn recalled the President said, ‘I never said to fire Mueller. I never said ‘fire.’ This story doesn’t look good. You need to correct this. You’re the White House counsel’... The President asked McGahn, ‘Did I say the word ‘fire’?’ McGahn responded, ‘What you said is, ‘Call Rod [Rosenstein], tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the Special Counsel.’ The President responded, ‘I never said that.’ The President said he merely wanted McGahn to raise the conflicts issue with Rosenstein and leave it to him to decide what to do. McGahn told the President he did not understand the conversation that way and instead had heard, ‘Call Rod. There are conflicts. Mueller has to go.’ The President asked McGahn whether he would ‘do a correction[.]’” [Vol. 2, pp. 116-117]
  • “The President also asked McGahn in the meeting why he had told Special Counsel’s Office investigators that the President had told him to have the Special Counsel removed...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’...The President said, ‘I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes.’” [Vol. 2, p. 117]
  • “After the Oval Office meeting concluded...McGahn recalled that Kelly said that he had pointed out to the President after the Oval Office that McGahn had not backed down and would not budge.” [Vol. 2, pp. 117-118]

J. The President’s Conduct Toward Flynn, Manafort, [Redact: Harm to Ongoing Matter]

  • “In addition to the interactions with McGahn described above, the President has taken other actions directed at possible witnesses in the Special Counsel’s investigation, including Flynn, Manforat, [Redacted: HOM] and as described in the next section, Cohen.” [Vol. 2, p. 120]
  • During Manafort’s prosecution and while the jury was deliberating, the President repeatedly stated that Manafort was being treated unfairly and made it known that Manafort could receive a pardon. [Vol. 2, p. 120]
  • “As previously noted… the President asked for Flynn’s resignation on February 13, 2017. Following Flynn’s resignation, the President made positive public comments about Flynn, describing him as a ‘wonderful man,’ ‘a fine person,’ and a ‘very good person.’ The President also privately asked advisors to pass messages to Flynn conveying that the President still cared about him and encouraging him to stay strong.” [Vol. 2, 120-121]
  • “On December 1, 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements pursuant to a cooperation agreement. The next day, the President told the press that he was not concerned about what Flynn might tell the Special Counsel. In response to a question about whether the President still stood behind Flynn, the President responded, ‘We’ll see what happens.’ Over the next several days, the President made public statements expressing sympathy for Flynn and indicating he had not been treated fairly. On December 15, 2017, the President responded to a press inquiry about whether he was considering a pardon for Flynn by saying, ‘I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens. Let’s see. I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.’” [Vol. 2, p. 122]
  • “As the proceedings against Manafort progressed in court, the President told Porter that he never liked Manafort and that Manafort did not know what he was doing on the campaign. The President discussed with aides whether and in what way Manafort might be cooperating with the Special Counsel’s investigation, and whether Manafort knew any information that would be harmful to the President.” [Vol. 2, p. 123]
  • “In public, the President made statements criticizing the prosecution and suggesting that Manafort was being treated unfairly. On June 15, 2018, before a scheduled court hearing that day on whether Manafort’s bail should be revoked based on new charges that Manafort had tampered with witnesses while out on bail, the President told the press, ‘I feel badly about a lot of them because I think a lot of it is very unfair. I mean, I look at some of them where they go back 12 years. Like Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. But I feel so I tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago? ... I feel badly for some people, because they’ve gone back 12 years to find things about somebody, and I don’t think it’s right.’ In response to a question about whether he was considering a pardon for Manafort or other individuals involved in the Special Counsel’s investigation, the President said, ‘I don’t want to talk about that. No, I don’t want to talk about that.... But look, I do want to see people treated fairly. That’s what it’s all about.’ Hours later, Manafort’s bail was revoked and the President tweeted, ‘Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all the others? Very unfair!’” [Vol. 2, pp. 123-124]
  • “On July 31, 2018, Manafort’s criminal trial began in the Eastern District of Virginia, generating substantial news coverage. The next day, the President tweeted, ‘This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!’ Minutes later, the President tweeted, ‘Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders. He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn’t government tell me that he was under investigation. These old charges have nothing to do with Collusion — a Hoax!’ Later in the day, the President tweeted, ‘Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement — although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?’” [Vol. 2, p. 125]
  • “On August 21, 2018, the jury found Manafort guilty on eight felony counts. Also on August 21, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to eight offenses, including a campaign-finance violation that he said had occurred ‘in coordination with, and at the direction of, a candidate for federal office.’ The President reacted to Manafort’s convictions that day by telling reporters, ‘Paul Manafort’s a good man’ and ‘it’s a very sad thing that happened.’ The President described the Special Counsel’s investigation as ‘a witch hunt that ends in disgrace.’ The next day, the President tweeted, ‘I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’—make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!’”
  • “In a Fox News interview on August 22, 2018, the President said: ‘[Cohen] makes a better deal when he uses me, like everybody else. And one of the reasons I respect Paul Manafort so much is he went through that trial — you know they make up stories. People make up stories. This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping.’ The President said that flipping was ‘not fair’ and ‘almost ought to be outlawed.’ In response to a question about whether he was considering a pardon for Manafort, the President said, ‘I have great respect for what he’s done, in terms of what he’s gone through. ... He worked for many, many people many, many years, and I would say what he did, some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 126-127]
  • “Giuliani told journalists that the President ‘really thinks Manafort has been horribly treated’ and that he and the President had discussed the political fallout if the President pardoned Manafort. The next day, Giuliani told the Washington Post that the President had asked his lawyers for advice on the possibility of a pardon for Manafort and other aides, and had been counseled against considering a pardon until the investigation concluded.” [Vol. 2, p. 127]
  • “On November 26, 2018, the Special Counsel’s Office disclosed in a public court filing that Manafort had breached his plea agreement by lying about multiple subjects. The next day, Giuliani said that the President had been ‘upset for weeks’ about what he considered to be ‘the un-American, horrible treatment of Manafort.’” [Vol. 2, p. 127-128]
  • “In an interview on November 28, 2018, the President suggested that it was ‘very brave’ that Manafort did not ‘flip’:

If you told the truth, you go to jail. You know this flipping stuff is terrible. You flip and you lie and you get — the prosecutors will tell you 99 percent of the time they can get people to flip. It’s rare that they can’t. But I had three people: Manafort, Corsi — I don’t know Corsi, but he refuses to say what they demanded. Manafort, Corsi [redacted: harm to ongoing matter]. It’s actually very brave.” [Vol. 2, p. 128]

  • “In response to a question about a potential pardon for Manafort, the President said, ‘It was never discussed, but I wouldn’t take it off the table. Why would I take it off the table?’” [Vol. 2, p. 128]

K. The President’s Conduct Involving Michael Cohen

  • “The President’s conduct involving Michael Cohen spans the full period of our investigation… Cohen briefed candidate Trump on the [Trump Tower Moscow] project numerous times, including discussing whether Trump should travel to Russia to advance the deal.” [Vol. 2, p. 134]
  • “After the FBI searched Cohen’s home and office in April 2018, the President publicly asserted that Cohen would not ‘flip’ and privately passed messages of support to him.” [Vol. 2, p. 134]
  • “But after Cohen began cooperating with the government in July 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a ‘rat,’ and suggested his family members had committed crimes.” [Vol. 2, p. 134]
  • “The President’s interactions with Cohen as a witness took place against the background of the President’s involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project.” [Vol. 2, p. 134]
  • “According to Cohen, in approximately September 2015 he obtained internal approval from Trump to negotiate on behalf of the Trump Organization to have a Russian corporation build a tower in Moscow that licensed the Trump name and brand. Cohen thereafter had numerous brief conversations with Trump about the project. Cohen recalled that Trump wanted to be updated on any developments with Trump Tower Moscow and on several occasions brought the project up with Cohen to ask what was happening on it.” [Vol. 2, p. 135]
  • “In the fall of 2015, Trump signed a Letter of Intent for the project that specified highly lucrative terms for the Trump Organization.” [Vol. 2, p. 135]
  • ‘“On January 20, 2016, Cohen received an email response from Elena Poliakova, Peskov’s personal assistant, and phone records confirm that they then spoke for approximately twenty minutes, during which Cohen described the Trump Tower Moscow project and requested assistance in moving the project forward. Cohen recalled briefing candidate Trump about the call soon afterwards. Cohen told Trump he spoke with a woman he identified as ‘someone from the Kremlin,’ and Cohen reported that she was very professional and asked detailed questions about the project. Cohen recalled telling Trump he wished the Trump Organization had assistants who were as competent as the woman from the Kremlin.” [Vol. 2, p. 136]
  • “After January 2016, Cohen continued to have conversations with Sater about Trump Tower Moscow and continued to keep candidate Trump updated about those discussions and the status of the project. Cohen recalled that he and Trump wanted Trump Tower Moscow to succeed and that Trump never discouraged him from working on the project because of the campaign. In March or April 2016, Trump asked Cohen if anything was happening in Russia.” [Vol. 2, p. 136]
  • “Cohen recalled that around May 2016, he again raised with candidate Trump the possibility of a trip to Russia to advance the Trump Tower Moscow project.” [Vol. 2, p. 137]
  • “On May 5, 2016, Sater followed up with a text that Cohen thought he probably read to Trump:

Peskov would like to invite you as his guest to the St. Petersburg Forum which is Russia’s Davos it’s June 16-19. He wants to meet there with you and possibly introduce you to either Putin or Medvedev.... This is perfect. The entire business class of Russia will be there as well. He said anything you want to discuss including dates and subjects are on the table to discuss.” [Vol. 2, p. 137]

  • “Cohen recalled discussing the invitation to the St. Petersburg Economic Forum with candidate Trump and saying that Putin or Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev might be there. Cohen remembered that Trump said that he would be willing to travel to Russia if Cohen could ‘lock and load’ on the deal.” [Vol. 2, p. 137]
  • “In June 2016, Cohen decided not to attend the St. Petersburg Economic Forum because Sater had not obtained a formal invitation for Cohen from Peskov. Cohen said he had a quick conversation with Trump at that time but did not tell him that the project was over because he did not want Trump to complain that the deal was on-again-off-again if it were revived.” [Vol. 2, p. 137]
  • “During the summer of 2016, Cohen recalled that candidate Trump publicly claimed that he had nothing to do with Russia and then shortly afterwards privately checked with Cohen about the status of the Trump Tower Moscow project... At some point that summer, Cohen recalled having a brief conversation with Trump in which Cohen said the Trump Tower Moscow project was going nowhere because the Russian development company had not secured a piece of property for the project. Trump said that was ‘too bad,’ and Cohen did not recall talking with Trump about the project after that. Cohen said that at no time during the campaign did Trump tell him not to pursue the project or that the project should be abandoned.” [Vol. 2, pp. 137-138]
  • “As previously discussed... when questions about possible Russian support for candidate Trump emerged during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump denied having any personal, financial, or business connection to Russia[.]” [Vol. 2, p. 138]
  • “In approximately January 2017, Cohen began receiving inquiries from the media about Trump Tower Moscow, and he recalled speaking to the President-Elect when those inquiries came in.” [Vol. 2, p. 138]
  • “...Cohen told a New York Times reporter that the Trump Tower Moscow deal was not feasible and had ended in January 2016. Cohen recalled that this was part of a ‘script’ or talking points he had developed with President-Elect Trump and others to dismiss the idea of a substantial connection between Trump and Russia. Cohen said that he discussed the talking points with Trump but that he did not explicitly tell Trump he thought they were untrue because Trump already knew they were untrue.” [Vol. 2, pp. 138-139]
  • “In early May 2017, Cohen received requests from Congress to provide testimony and documents in connection with congressional investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election...On May 18, 2017, Cohen met with the President to discuss the request from Congress, and the President instructed Cohen that he should cooperate because there was nothing there.” [Vol. 2, p. 139]
  • “Cohen eventually entered into a joint defense agreement (JDA) with the President and other individuals who were part of the Russia investigation.” [Vol. 2, p. 139]
  • “Cohen also recalled that in drafting his statement for Congress, he spoke with the President’s personal counsel about a different issue that connected candidate Trump to Russia: Cohen’s efforts to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin in New York during the 2015 United Nations General Assembly. In September 2015, Cohen had suggested the meeting to Trump, who told Cohen to reach out to Putin’s office about it. Cohen spoke and emailed with a Russian official about a possible meeting, and recalled that Trump asked him multiple times for updates on the proposed meeting with Putin. When Cohen called the Russian official a second time, she told him it would not follow proper protocol for Putin to meet with Trump, and Cohen relayed that message to Trump.” [Vol. 2, pp. 141-142]
  • “On August 28, 2017, Cohen submitted his statement about the Trump Tower Moscow project to Congress. Cohen did not recall talking to the President about the specifics of what the statement said or what Cohen would later testify to about Trump Tower Moscow. He recalled speaking to the President more generally about how he planned to stay on message in his testimony.” [Vol. 2, p. 144]
  • “On February 19, 2018, the day after the New York Times wrote a detailed story attributing the payment to Cohen and describing Cohen as the President’s ‘fixer,’ Cohen received a text message from the President’s personal counsel that stated, ‘Client says thanks for what you do.’” [Vol. 2, p. 145]
  • “On April 9, 2018, FBI agents working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed search warrants on Cohen’s home, hotel room, and office. That day, the President spoke to reporters and said that he had ‘just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man.’ The President called the searches ‘a real disgrace’ and said, ‘It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.’” [Vol. 2, pp. 145-146]
  • “A few days after the searches, the President called Cohen. According to Cohen, the President said he wanted to ‘check in’ and asked if Cohen was okay, and the President encouraged Cohen to ‘hang in there’ and ‘stay strong.’ Cohen also recalled that following the searches he heard from individuals who were in touch with the President and relayed to Cohen the President’s support for him. Cohen recalled that [redacted: personal privacy],,a friend of the President’s, reached out to say that he was with ‘the Boss’ in Mar-a-Lago and the President had said ‘he loves you’ and not to worry.1019 Cohen recalled that [redacted: personal privacy] for the Trump Organization, told him, ‘the boss loves you.’ And Cohen said that [redacted: personal privacy], a friend of the President’s, told him, ‘everyone knows the boss has your back.’” [Vol. 2, p. 146]
  • “On April 20, 2018, the New York Times published an article about the President’s relationship with and treatment of Cohen The President responded with a series of tweets predicting that Cohen would not ‘flip’:

The New York Times and a third rate reporter ... are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip.’ They use non-existent ‘sources’ and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!” [Vol. 2, pp. 146-147]

  • “On April 24, 2018, the President responded to a reporter’s inquiry whether he would consider a pardon for Cohen with, ‘Stupid question.’ On June 8, 2018, the President said he ‘hadn’t even thought about’ pardons for Manafort or Cohen, and continued, ‘It’s far too early to be thinking about that. They haven’t been convicted of anything. There’s nothing to pardon.’ And on June 15, 2018, the President expressed sympathy for Cohen, Manafort, and Flynn in a press interview and said, ‘I feel badly about a lot of them, because I think a lot of it is very unfair.’” [Vol. 2, p. 148]
  • “Beginning on July 20, 2018, the media reported on the existence of a recording Cohen had made of a conversation he had with candidate Trump about a payment made to a second woman who said she had had an affair with Trump. On July 21, 2018, the President responded: ‘Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) — almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client — totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!’ On July 27, 2018, after the media reported that Cohen was willing to inform investigators that Donald Trump Jr. told his father about the June 9, 2016 meeting to get ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton, the President tweeted: ‘[S]o the Fake News doesn’t waste my time with dumb questions, NO, I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?). He even retained Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice!’” [Vol. 2, pp. 148-149]
  • “On August 21, 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York to eight felony charges, including two counts of campaign-finance violations based on the payments he had made during the final weeks of the campaign to women who said they had affairs with the President. During the plea hearing, Cohen stated that he had worked ‘at the direction of’ the candidate in making those payments. The next day, the President contrasted Cohen’s cooperation with Manafort’s refusal to cooperate, tweeting, ‘I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’—make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!’” [Vol. 2, p. 149]
  • “On November 20, 2018, the President submitted written responses that did not answer those questions about Trump Tower Moscow directly and did not provide any information about the timing of the candidate’s discussions with Cohen about the project or whether he participated in any discussions about the project being abandoned or no longer pursued. Instead, the President’s answers stated in relevant part:

I had few conversations with Mr. Cohen on this subject. As I recall, they were brief, and they were not memorable. I was not enthused about the proposal, and I do not recall any discussion of travel to Russia in connection with it. I do not remember discussing it with anyone else at the Trump Organization, although it is possible. I do not recall being aware at the time of any communications between Mr. Cohen and Felix Sater and any Russian government official regarding the Letter of Intent.” [Vol. 2, pp. 149-150]

  • “On November 29, 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress based on his statements about the Trump Tower Moscow project. In a plea agreement with this Office, Cohen agreed to ‘provide truthful information regarding any and all matters as to which this Office deems relevant.’ Later on November 29, after Cohen’s guilty plea had become public, the President spoke to reporters about the Trump Tower Moscow project, saying:

I decided not to do the project. ... I decided ultimately not to do it. There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it. If I did do it, there would have been nothing wrong. That was my business. ... It was an option that I decided not to do.... I decided not to do it. The primary reason ... I was focused on running for President. ... I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would've gone back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?

The President also said that Cohen was ‘a weak person. And by being weak, unlike other people that you watch — he is a weak person. And what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence. So he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about.’ The President also brought up Cohen’s written submission to Congress regarding the Trump Tower Moscow project: ‘So here’s the story: Go back and look at the paper that Michael Cohen wrote before he testified in the House and/or Senate. It talked about his position.’ The President added, ‘Even if [Cohen] was right, it doesn’t matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign.’” [Vol. 2, p. 150]

  • “In the weeks following Cohen’s plea and agreement to provide assistance to this Office, the President repeatedly implied that Cohen’s family members were guilty of crimes. On December 3, 2018, after Cohen had filed his sentencing memorandum, the President tweeted, ‘‘Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.’ You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.’” [Vol. 2, p. 151]
  • “On December 12, 2018, Cohen was sentenced to three years of imprisonment. The next day, the President sent a series of tweets that said:

I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. ... Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did — including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!” [Vol. 2, p. 151]

  • “In January 2019, after the media reported that Cohen would provide public testimony in a congressional hearing, the President made additional public comments suggesting that Cohen’s family members had committed crimes. In an interview on Fox on January 12, 2019, the President was asked whether he was worried about Cohen’s testimony and responded:

[I]n order to get his sentence reduced, [Cohen] says ‘I have an idea, I’ll ah, tell — I’ll give you some information on the president.’ Well, there is no information. But he should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that’s the one that people want to look at because where does that money — that’s the money in the family. And I guess he didn’t want to talk about his father-in-law, he’s trying to get his sentence reduced. So it’s ah, pretty sad. You know, it’s weak and it’s very sad to watch a thing like that.” [Vol. 2, pp. 151-152]

  • “On January 18, 2019, the President tweeted, ‘Kevin Corke, @FoxNews ‘Don’t forget, Michael Cohen has already been convicted of perjury and fraud, and as recently as this week, the Wall Street Journal has suggested that he may have stolen tens of thousands of dollars …’ Lying to reduce his jail time! Watch father-in-law!’” [Vol. 2, p. 152]
  • “On January 23, 2019, Cohen postponed his congressional testimony, citing threats against his family. The next day, the President tweeted, ‘So interesting that bad lawyer Michael Cohen, who sadly will not be testifying before Congress, is using the lawyer of Crooked Hillary Clinton to represent him-Gee, how did that happen?’” [Vol. 2, p. 152]

Appendix C

  • “The President provided written responses through his personal counsel to questions submitted to him by the Special Counsel 's Office.” [Appendix C, p. C-1]
  • “We received the President's written responses in late November 2018.” [Appendix C, p. C-1]
  • “We noted, among other things, that the President stated on more than 30 occasions that he ‘does not 'recall' or 'remember' or have an ' independent recollection'’ of information called for by the questions. Other answers were ‘incomplete or imprecise.’” [Appendix C, p. C-1]
  • “We again requested an in-person interview, limited to certain topics, advising the President's counsel that ‘[t]his is the President's opportunity to voluntarily provide us with information for us to evaluate in the context of all of the evidence we have gathered.’ The President declined.” [Appendix C, p. C-1-C-2]

Hadley Baker was an Assistant Editor of Lawfare. She is a recent graduate from the University of St Andrews, studying English literature and Spanish. She was previously an intern at Lawfare.
Mikhaila Fogel was an associate editor at Lawfare and a research analyst at the Brookings Institution. She previously worked as a legislative correspondent for national security and foreign affairs issues in the Office of Sen. Susan Collins. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, where she majored in history and literature and minored in government and Arabic.

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