Jan 4, 2018

Trump, WH Counsel tried to stop Sessions from recusing himself

Photo: Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

White House counsel Don McGahn lobbied Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia probe at the direction of President Trump, the New York Times' Mike Schmidt reports.

  • McGahn backed off when Sessions told him that DOJ officials already advised him to recuse himself, per the Times. That led to Trump "[erupting] in anger," saying "he needed his attorney general to protect him," per the report.
  • Why it matters: This information has already crossed Robert Mueller's desk.

Other details from the report:

  • Mueller has "substantiated claims that Mr. Comey made in a series of memos describing troubling interactions" with Trump. Remember: Comey said Trump asked him for loyalty, and to back off Michael Flynn.
  • Trump reportedly called the investigation "fabricated and politically motivated" in a letter he meant to send to Comey. He was ultimately stopped from sending it by White House aides.
  • Mueller also has noted from former chief of staff Reince Priebus regarding how Trump talked to him about calling Comey "to urge him to say publicly that he was not under investigation."
  • A White House lawyer misled Trump into believing he lacked the power to fire Comey, because he thought the move would be disastrous.

Worth noting: The NYT reports that experts are "divided" on if Mueller could bring about obstruction charges against Trump, though legal experts told the Times that there is "a larger body of public evidence tying the president to a possible crime of obstruction."

Go deeper