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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Mueller report portrays President Trump as repeatedly trying to commit obstruction, only to have his staff ignore him, saving him from himself.

Why it matters: Trump often acted like a bystander during the special counsel's investigation, venting his frustration on Twitter and with reporters.

  • But a striking theme of the report is what an active player he was in the behind-the-scenes drama.
  • Trump often tried to orchestrate outcomes, then found himself thwarted by a system that was beyond his direct control.
  • "In early summer 2017," the report says, "the President called [then-Attorney General Jeff] Sessions at home and again asked him to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions did not reverse his recusal."

The report lists rat-a-tat examples of times that aides and advisers slow-walked or rebuffed Trump suggestions and orders, insulating him from obstruction:

  • Former FBI Director Jim Comey "did not end the investigation of [national security adviser Michael] Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI."
  • White House counsel Don McGahn "did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order."
  • Corey Lewandowski and Rick Dearborn "did not deliver the President’s message to Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only."
  • "And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the Special Counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so."

Here's a previously unknown episode, with the sort of colorful detail that peppers the report:

  • "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 ... 'on the team.'"
  • "Contemporaneous notes taken by Porter show that the President told Porter to 'Keep in touch with your friend.'"
  • "Porter did not contact Brand because he was sensitive to the implications ... and did not want to be involved in ... an effort to end the investigation or fire the Special Counsel."

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Go deeper

Pelosi announces bid for reelection ahead of 2022 midterms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her bid for reelection Tuesday, amid a deluge of other safe-seat Democrats announcing their retirements.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s announcement follows months of speculation — despite her denials — that she was preparing to leave Congress.

Scoop: Qatar emir to visit White House on Monday

The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, leaves the White House after meeting President Trump in 2019. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The emir of Qatar will meet with President Biden at the White House on Monday to discuss Afghanistan as well as contingency plans to provide natural gas to Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Europe's reliance on Russia for 40% of its natural gas is undermining Biden's attempts to coordinate "massive" sanctions to be imposed from both sides of the Atlantic if Russia invades. The White House wants Qatar to help ensure European countries can enforce tough sanctions without risking an energy crisis.

Biden: There won't be "American forces moving into Ukraine"

President Joe Biden told reporters Tuesday that he does not foresee U.S. troops moving into Ukraine.

Why it matters: Biden's comments come as tensions between Russia and Ukraine persist, and a Russian invasion of Ukraine appears increasingly likely.