Jan 5, 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

The business of tear gas

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.S. forces yesterday used tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House gates, prior to a declared curfew, clearing a path for President Trump to visit a riot-damaged church for a photo opportunity.

The state of play: Two of the largest U.S. producers of tear gas are owned by private equity firms, but those firms have no interest in discussing their ownership.

Exclusive: Washington Post makes major move into local news

People entering the Washington Post building in D.C. in 2019. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The Washington Post has signed all 30 of McClatchy's local news outlets to its Zeus Performance product, a software that gives sites better speed, ad view-ability and performance, executives tell Axios.

Why it matters: By adding more local news outlets, The Post can start to build a local news ecosystem within its tech stack.

Biden: George Floyd's last words are "a wake-up call for our nation"

Former Vice President Joe Biden meets with clergy members and community activists during a visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del. on June 1, 2020. Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden will call George Floyd’s dying words “a wake-up call for our nation,” and criticize President Trump’s decision to unleash tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House, in a civil rights speech from Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Biden in the address will seek to draw a sharp contrast between himself and Trump, whose first remarks addressing nationwide unrest Monday highlighted law and order, extreme demonstrations of militarized “strength” and other blustery threats.